#MeToo: Is the social media justice system really fair?
#MeToo is a phenomenal step against abusive patriarchal structures that protect the powerful and allow sexual harassment of the powerless.
In the wake of #MeToo, we saw several big names forced to face the justice system.
Here, we discuss the merits of social media justice.
Why was #MeToo movement started at all?
The #MeToo movement was started to give voice to the powerless. They could anonymously call out predators who abused the power structure for sexual purposes, mostly non-consensual.
While survivors would be protected by their anonymity, they could warn others of the predatory tendencies of these individuals.
It started as an empowering movement whose primary purpose was to throw light on predatory activities.
Naming automatically leads to shaming of perpetrators on social media
Since a large part of the #MeToo accusations appeared on social media, it gave rise to a brand new aspect to the movement.
Naming naturally led to the shaming of the perpetrators on social media.
This was taken further when people began to ostracize said alleged perpetrators, and social media actions transcended the virtual medium and began to affect perpetrators' socioeconomic conditions in reality.
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On social media, accusation often equals verdict
This was the turning point, where we began to see the rise of social media justice.
Social media justice does not have 'alleged' perpetrators.
Their guilt is assumed the moment they are named. Most perpetrators are not given a platform to voice their side of the story, as the court of public opinion among social media peers judge their guilt and pass their decision.
The need for social media justice, however, is remarkable
While I have not portrayed social media justice in the kindest light, the need for an alternate justice system has been paramount for some time.
The existing legal framework is guided by laws and institutions steeped in archaic patriarchal beliefs and practices.
To this end, a survivor would seldom get justice within the system, sparking the need for an extra-legal social media justice system.
Social media justice is necessary, but is it fair?
Although the need for an alternate justice system, in this case social media justice is evident, but is it fair?
Various biases dictate the voices we choose to hear on social media, making it a fundamentally flawed platform for justice.
The outreach of the survivor and the perpetrator's narrative is based on the number of social media connections, which is another flaw.
How then can we improve on social media justice?
This writer feels social media justice can be made fairer.
An accessible platform should be set up for airing grievances, which can be judged by groups of unbiased peers.
Said peers should not be within social circles of either party, and concerned parties' online profiles should remain anonymous.
Only after resolution should the perpetrator be named, while the survivor can choose to remain anonymous.
Survivors should get empathy and benefit of doubt
While there is a scope for improvement in the social media justice system, one thing it has already done correctly is to treat the survivor with empathy and to give them the benefit of doubt. Any possible improved system should reflect the same.
Despite unfairness, social media justice is retributive currently
Despite unfairness in the social media justice system, it tries to deliver retributive justice.
Our established legal framework also follows the retributive system, where a criminal faces punishment in order to deter similar crimes.
Social media retribution comes in the form of ostracization causing socioeconomic consequences.
Seeing how the existing legal system undergoes numerous changes, ensuring fairness, social media justice must amend itself too.
What flawed retributive social media justice looks like in reality?
An example of retributive social media justice would be a member of a theater group who was accused of kissing and groping a girl without consent.
His attempts to voice an opinion were quashed by the survivor's peers who judged him guilty and decided to boycott the movie he recently acted in.
This method of unanimous decisions, silencing voices and retribution is deeply flawed.
Alternately, social media justice should attempt to be restorative
Alternately, social media justice should be restorative.
This focuses on rehabilitating criminals after sensitizing them to their crimes.
With greater involvement of victim and criminal, restorative justice is handled by communities rather than institutions.
Social media's setup makes it best suited for restorative justice.
However, if it continues with retributive justice, then it must implement changes to remove existing unfairness within the current system.
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