"That doesn’t mean shaming will always have the intended effect. There’s always a chance the public won’t latch onto a given case. And even if officials wanted to maximize the amount of shame, they don’t always know how to leverage social media and PR to rack up millions of views. However, unlike public shaming spurred on by private, often anonymous, individuals, shaming that’s sanctioned by law enforcement has “a whole other imprimatur of credibility,” said Danielle Citron, a University of Maryland law professor who studies online harassment. It’s a clear signal for media outlets and private citizens to pile on, all in the name of the public good, which Citron sees as a threat to the foundational principles of our legal system. “The reason that we have law is to take it out of the hands of the mob, the Hobbesian nightmare,” she said. “The point of procedural due process is to get the greatest chance of an accurate result.” Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, added, “It’s effectively law enforcement anointing themselves as judge, jury, and public shamer.”
The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.