UCL Uncovering Politics

Online Public Shaming: Social Media, Ethics and Punishment

Episode Summary

This week we are taking a deep dive into online public shaming. Is shaming ever ethical? What are the consequences of public shaming? And how does OPS deprive an individual of due process?

Episode Notes

Today we’re looking at a brand new article, Against Online Public Shaming: Ethical Problems with Mass Social Mediaby Guy Aitchison (Loughborough University) and Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia (UCL). 

Online Public Shaming (OPS) is a form of norm enforcement that involves collectively imposing reputational costs on a person for having a certain kind of moral character. OPS actions aim to disqualify her from public discussion and certain normal human relations. In the article, the authors argue that this constitutes an informal collective punishment that it is presumptively wrong to impose (or seek to impose) on others. OPS functions as a form of ostracism that fails to show equal basic respect to its targets. Additionally, in seeking to mobilise unconstrained collective power with potentially serious punitive consequences, OPS is incompatible with due process values.

In this episode, host Professor Jennifer Hudson is joined by Saladin, Associate Professor of Human Rights and Political Theory here in the Department of Political Science to explore online public shaming, its consequences, the ethics, and more.