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Social (Media) accountability.

graham's picture


After nice Sushi meal where we discussed the recent twitter storm over the naming of a man arrested (not charged as far as I'm aware) for abducting a young girl I found myself musing on the accountability using twitter/facebook/cif etc as a platform for their knee jerk reactions. Watching my feeds explode in vitriolic instant judgments coming from friends and strangers alike makes me feel uncomfortable. The fact that that instant judgment disappears into the whole general mish mash doesn't mean I don't recall, at least vaguely, the fact that someone condemned another person publically with little or no research and, perhaps more importantly, against their own standing opinions on what the rule of law,  criminal procedure and fair trial entail. I certainly doubt that anyone who commented would wish to be named if they were arrested for kidnapping before they were charged or even before they were actually found guilty. This sort of thing starts lynching and innocent people get dead.
I'm not expressing a desire to support criminals. I'm expressing a desire for the accountability of the online personas particularly where it pertains to suspension of the rule of law. If someone wishes to use an anonymous twitter account to hide behind I don't have much of an issue with that, it may be cowardly but it's not the problem I'm addressing. I'm suggesting mapping, much as â€‹ does the frequency in which an account makes spurious emotive statements calling for summary execution, torture, beatings, rape or any other form of violence or circumvention of due process against an as yet unproven suspect. This can be extended to all sorts of other anonymous socially injustice statements but I'm focusing on this incidence. does this in a very general sense, tracking four words or statements and just outputting the number of times they have appeared on twitter. It serves a useful purpose but it's not quite what I'm getting at.
I suspect the scale of my idea is too grand but it's a thought experiment, and a very rough one, so lets run with it.
A website tracks twitter adding accounts as it goes. Each account has profile on the website that records some basic statistics: Account name, How many tweets they user has made, may be some activity stats. It also tracks known public incidents and whether the account made a call for summary justice, execution, torture etc *before* the person/entity in question has been charged. These are represented as an overall knee-jerk stat that gets broken down into particular incidents so you can see what their opinion on the matter was. Completely public, nothing hidden ultimately your desire is for your account to have as low a score as possible.
Really what I want is that the accounts themselves are accountable, whoever is running them. It's a public shaming game I realise but I'd hope that it would impact the people/entities making vicious, throwaway statements by recording more visibly the idiocies they choose to publish. It'd would give a metric by which to judge if this account is really something you want to engage with.
I'd see the possibility in cross referencing statements like "lock 'em up and throw away the key" or "I hope they torture the information out of him. In these cases exceptions should be made" with other statements such as "No fair trial for $person" or "Justice for $person, the investigation was a sham". In general we know the sort of person who make the first statement is likely to make the second depending on their own interests but it would highlight personal bias against bandwagoning.
Oh and I do realise the irony in that this post is in itself a knee-jerk reaction to knee-jerk reactions. Comments welcomed and encouraged.