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Social Media Vigilantism

In recent years, the rise of social media has been used to showcase wild travel adventures, delicious foods, cute animals, life observations, and even #ManCrushMondays. However, with the explosion of uncovering racist, sexist, and homophobic people in positions of power, social media sites are now also an outlet for everyday people to hold others accountable for their behavior.

Civilians are using this type of public exposure of wrongdoings to stand up for parents, friends and themselves. Usually posts, mostly on Instagram and Twitter, begin with citing an inappropriate or discriminatory incident at work, school, or just out in public. After the post circulates for a long time, the public shaming of said inappropriate person ensues. Sometimes, the shaming is as far as the situation goes, but if the post gets enough attention it can result in people being fired from jobs, suspended from schools, or being formally punished somehow.

One excellent example of how social media is used to call people out for their behavior is the #MeToo movement, started in 2006 by Tarana Burke. This form of speaking out against sexual assault has helped bring to the surface stories of some of the 17,700,000 women who have reported sexual assault since 1998. Due to the courageous voices of women willing to tell their stories through social media, many people who were abusing their positions of power have been brought to justice and relentlessly boycotted in the online community.

While this type of action can lead to justice, it cannot be treated as a substitution for proper legal procedures. In many cases, accusations alone are enough to ruin a person’s reputation and should be handled by law enforcement and the court system, not just mob justice.

Sharing information on social media can be a fun way to keep in touch with friends or let people have a glance into your personal life, but there are also consequences to revealing things on the Internet. It is important to make sure your information is correct and allow for facts to be checked by appropriate authorities. However, it is also vital to hold others accountable and call someone out if they are acting in a way that violates the rights of someone else. We have a responsibility to keep conversations going, whether face-to-face or through social media, so we may all be free to live safely just as we are.

My name is Isabella Whitehead, but I mostly go by Bella. I am currently a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro majoring in Consumer, Apparel and Retail Studies. I have been a part of the Her Campus UNCG team since Fall 2017 and will be stepping up this year as a Co-Campus Correspondent. Writing is a passion of mine and I enjoy working with HerCampus to inform, entertain and empower my fellow students. 
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