Trial By Social Media - Are The Accused Guilty Until Proven Innocent?
Laws vs Society
The concept of innocent until proven guilty is a huge part of the legal process of most countries around the world, but social media has challenged this concept in society itself.
Although an innocent verdict can legally clear a person’s name, society at large tends to ignore this. Social media has enabled the general public to act as judge, jury & executioner in most controversial cases, especially where the name of the accused is made public.
We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘monkey see, monkey do’ but what we sometimes forget is that doesn’t only apply to our actions, but also to our beliefs.
When we see people in comment sections condemning the accused, the echo chamber takes effect & it’s easy to forget that there’s still an ongoing legal process. So wejump on the bandwagon of judgement, despite not having all the details in hand.
We have to remember - we’re not in the courtroom, and most of us are far from being legal experts.
The truth is that false accusations do happen, & it doesn’t stop there. There are multiple instances where a person was ‘proven’ guilty, only to have that overruled following further investigation.
The possibility of false accusations is real, & the fact that social media can lead to long term, irreversible reputational damage only fuels the reasons why someone might choose to make false accusations in court out of maleficent intentions. The last thing we want to be doing is adding a way for people with the wrong intentions to cause harm to innocent individuals.
You might be asking yourself “What real damage can be done?” & that question has multiple answers. Unfortunately, we live in a world where our reputation can make us or break us, & that’s because our reputation can extend to anyone close to us.
That means your friends, family & even your employer. So what can your reputation ruin? In short - your entire social circle & your career - one bad accusation can quite literally ruin everything around you, and everything you’ve built for yourself over the years, all in an instant. Now ask yourself - do you want to be a part of that?
No Hope For The Innocent?
So how badly has social media blurred the lines between accusations & facts?
Although it’s easy to place the blame on social media - the real blame falls on us as a society - despite the temptation to jump to conclusions, we need to learn to be patient & wait for legal processes to take their time.
We know that’s not easy when cases in Malta can drag on for years (a different injustice all together) but trying to take the reins ourselves has never been, & will never be, the solution.
Do You Think Social Media Has Affected Legal Processes?