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Social media witch-hunts

I cannot help but reflect on the recent social media witch-hunts involving Philip Schofield and Huw Edwards. Whether I agree or not with what has allegedly taken place is irrelevant. I am not in possession of any first-hand, verifiable evidence, therefore, I should keep my views to myself and not spread views that may be malicious or harmful (e.g. guessing who the alleged perp might be, or what might have happened).

The facts are that there is currently no evidence of any criminality in both cases, and that both individuals are now enduring serious mental health issues, yet the social media folk are quick to point the finger using the familiar, 'there's no smoke without fire' attitude. Tweets suddenly vanish as threats of lawyers are communicated. People's lives are being turned into an entertainment show, made worse by irresponsible media, in a quest for their 'truth'. This becomes perpetuating frustration until the alleged perpetrator can take no more and surrenders to their inevitable hanging.

There is a developing pattern here of people quickly drawing judgment of others based on a rumour, hearsay or an unverifiable source, without any sense of accountability for what they say. There is no interest in evaluating the facts, only to follow the 'sheep' for more likes and retweets in the comfort of their own home. Words have consequences, and people deserve to be judged with the presumption of innocence until it is proved beyond reasonable doubt. It took centuries for our legal system to develop principles of fairness, yet it has taken less than a decade for it to be dismantled on social media.

Some people blame the social media companies, but actually, it is the individual who posts that is ultimately responsible for what they say. At best the social media companies are vicariously liable for encouraging or enabling it. The lives of those who are subject to these social media witch-hunts are treated as virtual reality characters in the fantasy world of many, devoid of real feelings and families.

Is it any wonder then the public are unforgiving of people who have committed a crime and reformed? If the public cannot control their views about people who have not committed a crime, how can we expect them to accept a person who has committed a crime and is trying to turn their life around? Is this just human nature, is there an education role here in the rule of law, or are people only interested in cancelling others because it makes them feel morally justified or popular?


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