Significant other or spouse not staying faithful? Have a bad encounter with a random individual and want the world to know it almost instantly? Have no fear, the days of manually calling someone out is over. All a user needs to do is make a simple post about how terrible someone is and make it public; if the story is controversial enough the post will travel far and wide and into the hands of some radical keyboard vigilante. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the result is anything but a fairytale ending, and in many cases, are based on a misunderstanding. People have lost their jobs and have even been targeted with death threats over something that can’t be completely proven. In 2014 Jessica Chambers, a young Mississippi resident, was found dead and on fire next to her car. The young man that was admittedly the last person to have spoken to her was immediately targeted as the killer, accused of being a leader of a gang. He received any death threats online as well as at the gas station he ran with his father. The threats were so severe he had to leave his hometown in fear of his life and his father’s business also took a major blow. After he was cleared as a suspect by the police business returned to usual. His nightmare ended before the threats became reality and the threats receded, but that’s not always the case. The face of a Florida resident has sadly become a viral photo after a woman caught him taking a video of her child inside of a local grocery store.
That’s not to say that the mother’s interest in her child’s well-being isn’t warranted, but publicly outing someone as a possible child sex trafficker is obviously going to have some really serious consequences – not only for the mother but also for the man and his entire family. Although the woman has since deleted the post the damage has already been done, with the post being shared thousands of times over many profiles. The niece of the accused has also taken to Facebook to publicly defend her uncle, who has recently moved to Florida from overseas to be closer to his sons. She says that her uncle and his sons have a close relationship and that he would frequently send them pictures and videos of things that he thought they would find interesting. He would ask the subject first, and there was never an issue. But the mother had an issue with him taping her son without her permission and confronted the man. The mother called over the manager and her uncle was asked to leave. His niece has said that her family is scared for his safety as he has gotten many death threats and his personal information, including where he worked and his personal page, has been shared over many pages and sites. She says both he and his young sons are getting death threats and have discussed a possible relocation.
Don’t get me wrong, sharing information publicly has many benefits: It helps locate missing people and convicted criminals and sex traffickers, find long lost family and returns cherished items back to their owners. But for people who haven’t been convicted of anything and have been falsely accused, it can be a life-changing nightmare. Many don’t realize that once they make a public post about something as controversial as child sex trafficking it will get a lot of people’s attention, and if found to be false, can have a detrimental impact on the accused and their families. Even if the post is later deleted it’s always there, in the thousands of shares that it gets after.