For my Mini Project 2, I am going to combine the two topics of social media surveillance and those incarcerated.
One of the most popular social media platforms in our generation is Facebook. As we explore Facebook, we find “groups” that we are interested in. For this example, I will alter the name of the group, as it is a “private” group (all you have to do is answer one question to join the group, but it is still considered private). I will give it the name, “The Fredericksburg “Hall” of Shame”. There are approximately 38,500 members in this group. The page can be posted on by any member, and most of the time it is full of unnecessary drama, but there are some helpful posts, like missing person information, or searches for missing cars in the area.
To get to the specifics on what this post is about, I will tell you something that is posted every week. A woman posts screenshots of arrests from the Rappahannock Regional Jail (usually within the past 2-3 days) on this facebook page. The screenshots include the mugshots, full names, and their pending charges from their arrests. Though this is all public information that anyone can go look up on their computer, these posts are broadcasted to all 38.5k members of the page. As if their arrests being broadcasted on this platform wasn’t enough shame, people also get pretty rowdy within the comments.
Some comments found under the mugshot posts:
“Oh wow, first one. I did not know she was going down that path”
“Damn. Brittany again? I hope girl gets her life together.”
“Hope he rots in jail”
Though some of these comments can be “justified” because of the charges they were accused of, what if they were wrongly accused? What if they are actually innocent?
Now, let’s tie this into Focault. “Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action”. These individuals who have been incarcerated are not only seen and, in a way, “watched” by the system, but also to the public. Posting the inmates gives the lady control over who gets shamed. But, why?