Opinion / Opinion Line

Online witchhunts do not serve justice

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-06 07:54

Online witchhunts do not serve justice

Some passengers are observed eating in Nanjing's subway cars on July 1, 2014, the first day after a measure frowning on the practice takes effect.[Photo/IC]

A video showing a woman eating a popular Chinese snack with a strong smell on the Shanghai subway and arguing with other passengers who tried to stop her from dropping the remains on the floor, recently went viral. Her personal information, including her profession, was later posted online. As much as she deserves to be blamed for her behavior on public transport, Beijing Youth Daily says revealing her identity in this way invades her privacy:

Admittedly, by eating chicken feet on the subway and leaving the remains on the floor the woman was in the wrong. But that does not justify the abuse she received from netizens, which constituted virtual violence.

In fact, not only should the woman reflect upon her behavior, the local law enforcers should do the same for failing to keep the exposure of the personal information in line with the law.

Such cyber activities play a key role in catering to many citizens' curiosity about the identity of those who behave badly in public, and most participants are driven by good intentions to increase the information available about a public affair. However, the efforts of some may become a sort of witch hunt, prompting them to impose accusations on the person concerned without listening to his or her side of the story.

People's legitimate rights should be protected; if they have broken any rules or regulations they should be dealt with via the proper legal procedure. This aspect tends to be ignored by cyber hunters, which tend to set themselves up as both judge and jury. This will only worsen cyberspace at the expense of justice, as all members of the Internet community are equally obliged to say no to such online "violence" and respect others' legal interests.

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