Vigilante Internet Justice, or Counter-Harassment?

I read this article on the NYT recently, and I have seriously conflicted feelings about it.  Ariane Friedrich is German woman who works part time for the police, and is an Olympic athlete.  She recently received an unsolicited and completely inappropriate nude picture of a man she doesn’t know, along with a sexually explicit email.  She posted his full name and the town he lives in on Facebook to publicly shame him for .

I imagine this was her face on opening the email in question.

On one hand, I completely sympathize with her.  I can understand how she must have felt when she received this message, and given her semi-celebrity status as an Olympian, she very likely receives them on a regular basis.  Being forced to participate in this man’s sexual fetish, whether she liked it or not, is essentially mental rape.  I am sure that she was outraged, angry, and felt violated.  She lashed out.

On the other hand, this man clearly has no concept of what is and is not appropriate.  Sending an unsolicited explict email and picture of yourself to a stranger is antisocial behavior, and he needs help.  Unfortunately, the police generally are not concerned with violations of this nature, as there is no physical violence.  There’s also the fact that this man shares a name with another person in his town.  This other man did nothing wrong, and now his name is associated with a public shaming.

On my… foot, I guess, as I only have two hands, I know a man who has been falsely accused of inappropriate behavior.  While his accuser has a history of publicly outing other people who she felt acted inappropriately, she did not name my friend.  She did, however, spread her story around a conference they both attend each year, and my friend received some veiled threats from other men (along the lines of “I know what you did last year, and you’ll leave this conference if you know what is good for you”) until the conference organizers put a stop to it.  While it wasn’t a public internet outing (as her others have been), the girl could have done this, again, and ruined a man’s life, again.  I am thankful that this wasn’t the case.

What do you all think?  Should Ariane have publicly shamed this man, or should she have let the government do their job?

Posted on April 27, 2012, in Media and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. No NO NO! Maybe this come from somewhere deep down but it is completely inappropriate. It is an adolescent response to an ugly situation. While I understand that violation occurred but may not be dealt with the way society would doesn’t mean that its appropriate to publicly shame them instead. For heavens sake she works with the police department, I think its an embarrassment for her not to have faith in a system she is a part of. She could have taken him to court and still had it on a public record without being malicious on facebook and giving out his details in this manner. She wanted swift vigilante justice instead of making sure this man didnt behave this way towards other women. Isolating someone like this even further makes him MORE likely to act out inappropriately vs getting help he obviously needs.

  2. With the tools she has at her disposal, she could have done more for herself than say anyone else without the resources she has at her disposal. Honestly, I have been called adolescent and have shamed several people publicly on the internet several times. Do I regret it? Not really. I’ve learned from it though. I don’t do it anymore though I’ve been tempted to several times since. The men in my life are forcing me to grow up. lol

    Still when there’s no legal recourse, you can’t get a restraining order, you block every email, FB profile, phone number, ignore every unknown, blocked, or anonymous number, and the police don’t give a shit because there’s no physical abuse, what the fuck CAN you do except get the word out there that this prick is an asshole and harrassing you! Though I go a step further and put photos up, so there is NO chance of mistaken identity. Giving out, posting heir name and address publicly is extreme. I have NEVER gone THAT far, but I could if I wanted to do so.

    I don’t blame her. I empathize. What can you do when you know damn well your constituents can’t do anything to stop this man who may continue to do this to you with impunity?

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