Thursday, April 23, 2015

Is public shaming a viable component of public sector social media policy? 

During our presentation of social media strategy for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India) we (our group) suggested use of public shaming as a tactics to create deterrence against unsanitary behavior with the objective of inducing behavior change among citizens. The idea was that the government should provide a platform (space on the social media interface of SBA) to enable the citizens to use public shaming. During the post-presentation discussion it was pointed out that use of public shaming as a tool\tactics may not be desirable. After having read about the subject (on the internet) I am convinced that public shaming as a component of social media strategy of a public agency is not only unviable but is also undesirable.

Whether a persons conduct in any given context is socially acceptable or not, is a matter of personal (watcher's) perspective. There are numerous stories on the net (Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Anyone on Social MediaThe price of public shaming in the Internet ageabout how innocuous comments on social media (specially twitter) by a person offended by an act of offender, get blown out of proportion. Resulting in irreparable damage to both the parties. In my view, a government agency would become a party to all such debate (disputes) if it starts facilitating such interaction. Laura Hudson in her blog - "The Tumblr of Laura Hudson", has succinctly summarized the danger of public shaming through social media. She comments that - " It doesn’t mean you don’t speak up. It doesn’t mean you don’t call people out. All it means, when you’re using social media, is that you should consider the power of the tool—or the potential weapon–you’re using before you pull the trigger" (The Tumblr of Laura Hudson, last para)

I am of the view that even when the conduct of a person may warrant shaming, government can not be the one providing the weapon or means to do so. It is simply not an option. Our group has hence decided to drop the recommendation. I thank the class for their valuable feedback.

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