Read this fantastic piece on Medium by Dr. Kristina Kincaid and Chahat Corten. In their sensitive and important case study – using Marc Gafni’s case as an example – she proves the truth of what Wael Ghonim, who helped touch off the Arab Spring in his home of Egypt by setting up a simple Facebook page – said in his TED talk: “The same tool that united us to topple dictators eventually tore us apart.”
In his TED Talk, Wael Ghonim points to 5 challenges facing today’s social media. First, we spread rumors that confirm our personal biases. Second, we create ‘echo chambers’ in which to communicate only with people who share the same beliefs as us. Third, online discussions can (and often do) quickly turn into angry mobs. Fourth, it’s nearly impossible to change our opinions once we’ve posted them since everything ‘lives’ on the internet indefinitely. And Fifth, our online experience is designed for shallow comments over deep conversations. In other words, the internet has become a forum which allows for the bypassing all of the mechanisms of justice and integrity upon which this great country is founded.
In this light, I think you will find the following case study an unnerving example that speaks directly into Ghonim’s points. You will discover how the internet is used to crowd-source a witch hunt in an effort to publicly shame and ultimately commit social murder of innocent people. And finally, you will realize the sobering truth: That this could happen to anyone, including you.
The case study I will use to make my general point is the story of Marc Gafni and his alleged sexual abuse as it has played out on the internet. In full disclosure, it’s no secret that I work directly with Marc Gafni. And as my close friend and colleague says, “with all the material online about Marc, it is impossible for anyone to get close to him without having to do their own research and come to their own conclusions”.