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justice

It’s hard to overstate the devastation to some people’s lives from having their names published as part of this hack: not only to their relationships with their spouses and children but to their careers, reputations, and – depending on where they live – possibly their liberty or even life. What appears on the internet is permanent and inescapable. All of the people whose names appear in this data base will now be permanently branded with a digital “A.” Whether they actually did what they are accused of will be irrelevant: digital lynch mobs offer no due process or appeals. And it seems certain that many of the people whose lives are harmed, or ruined, by this hack will have been guilty of nothing.

Mob justice, meanwhile, is derived from the collective feelings of whoever happens to be participating. The mob's case law is limited to whatever its participants happen to remember and care about in that moment. Its rules of evidence privilege anything that shares easily on social media and that confirms the preexisting belief system of the mob participants. That is a way of administering justice that is just as likely to target innocent people as guilty ones — especially because there's no definition of what "guilty" and "innocent" mean in the first place.

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