Victim experiences shared on social media are a force to be reckoned with. However, the risks are great when the information is published directly to thousands of pairs of eyes, writes Anne Kantola, HS’s criminal and justice journalist.
Social the potential of the media to change the world has once again been proven.
Over the past week, numerous accounts have been set up on the Instagram photo service, such as #punkstoo and #metaltoo, which tell the story of problems of power and sexual violence within subcultures in the style of #metoo.
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The content of the accounts consists of messages shared anonymously about years of violence, sexism and harassment.
The probative value and number of victims is difficult to ignore. This is where the power of social media is seen, as no one is alone with their experience and the shame experienced for years can turn into a common resource.
The debate is extremely important and much needed, but it does not eliminate the problems associated with “justice” on social media.
In public threshing is problematic for the legal security of individuals, but victims are not safe either.
“Some is a powerful channel, but it needs to be understood as public communication. It is by no means detached from the real world, ”says Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Helsinki Kimmo Nuotio.
On social media, the voice of an ordinary person with his or her own feelings can be heard, and it allows the sharing of genuine experiences without intermediaries.
There is a danger in its speed, as the audience often has time to draw their conclusions before the other party has had time to react, Nuotio ponders.
There are no benchmarks on how the case law interprets the responsibility of the Instagram account administrator for sharing information.
Thing is not problematic only for those accused. The position of victims is also risky.
In practice, it is a question of how account administrators can ensure the accuracy of the information they share and, on the other hand, how well the principles of source protection, for example, are understood.
It is also not known for all accounts who is responsible for publishing or maintaining the account. It is therefore almost impossible to assess their reliability.
This is the first time that allegations of abuse have been made in such a systematic and high-volume manner. There are no benchmarks for how the case law interprets the responsibility of, for example, the administrator of an Instagram account for sharing information.
However, there are risks, because there is no journalist, for example, between the information and the public, whose job is to ensure the accuracy of the information and to protect its sources.
At worst the victim of the crime can commit the crime himself by sharing his own experiences.
Lawyer Emmi Kauppalan according to social media, the risks scale, as on public platforms, information can end up being seen in an instant by an awful large number of people.
“This is always case-specific, but the characteristics of defamation or the dissemination of information that infringes on privacy, for example, can be met,” says Kauppala.
Deleting a message afterwards also does not remedy the situation, as the characteristics of a crime may already be met by the fact that the information has been visible and shared for a moment.
The perpetrator also has a certain right to privacy, Kauppala reminds.
Even when it comes to their own abuse, they may be guilty of a crime.
Common sense says that everyone has the right to tell about their own experiences and the injustices they experience.
From a legal perspective, however, the matter is not that simple.
In principle, you can tell about your own experiences. But according to the case law, the accuser should also present arguments in support of the allegations, Kauppala says.
Thus, even when talking about one’s own abuse, one may be guilty of a crime.
An example of this is a Supreme Court ruling in the summer, in which the court found a woman guilty of a gross defamation when she told people she had been raped by a man.
The rape had been requested for investigation, but the police had decided not to investigate the matter because no physical or verbal intimidation had been used in the situation. According to the decision, the woman had therefore spread a false claim which had caused harm to the other party.
Possible criminal liability not only applies to the narrator of the claim, but also the publisher of the information can be held liable.
At the heart of everything is human recognizability. Mere censorship or non-disclosure of a name does not mean that a person could not be identified.
“If there are a sufficient number of such detailed descriptions from which a large group identifies him, the person can be considered identifiable,” Kauppala reminds.
So far, at least a few people have been able to be identified from the texts added to Instagram.
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Conversation There has been a lot of responsibility, even considered unfair to victims, since #metoo revolutionized the world.
On paper, the matter may sound simple: everyone should make a request for an investigation into a suspected crime, which will be processed by the judiciary.
However, the reports of many who shared their experiences highlight the fact that there has been so much shame or fear about the situations that they have not dared to talk about things. An understanding of what happened and its nature may also have arisen only afterwards, when a possible crime has already expired.
An official bus is not always possible.
However, as a distributor of justice, social media is a bad judge.
Force is a sharp weapon against rotten structures, but in careless use the stain can also hit its carrier.