If you do not sign on to the extreme right or left orthodoxy, you run the risk of being "canceled," the new name for the old concept of shunning.

Unfortunately, it is more malignant than passive action, and an individual can lose their family members, safety and security, friends, and employment to a social media pressure campaign.

We have all seen instances where a single aggrieved or “triggered” individual or a group of individuals posts something on a social media platform, and it goes viral – spread far and wide by those who amplify the message by re-posting and commenting. Sometimes with tragic consequences of threatening the safety, security, and employment of targeted individuals.

It takes one message, like a snowball starting to roll downhill, to create an avalanche of outrage…

AVALANCEHE-SOCIAL-MEDIAIt is not only individuals that are susceptible to real or reputational damage; it can be products, brands, or even entire companies and industries. In some cases, the damage is indirect, caused by the spread of erroneous medical misinformation that may cause individual harm. Let us not forget the realm of the political post, which can coerce, enflame, and create “flash mobs” to harm individuals, destroy public and private property, and even upset delicate diplomatic relations between agencies and nations.

In some cases, one does not even have to be the author or target of the post to be damaged by the original post's content. Simply “liking” or commenting is enough to cause the damage – the digital form of guilt by association.

Nobody is home at customer service…

Do not look for assistance from those who provide the platform for malicious posts. They are either trying to preserve their “Section 230 [47 U.S.C. § 230]  rights under the Communication Decency Act which immunizes them from lawsuits over posted content (“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”) or attempting to influence political affairs by allegedly “fact-checking’ content or sanctioning selected, mainly conservative, posters using some non-specific amorphous violation of the platform’s terms of services. The platform owners will not proactively provide the true name and contact information for a poster without a court order. And, in most cases, they will not assist in removing offending or demonstrably false posts. They will not even provide specifics or a contact point if you are unfairly canceled.

How can one defend against malicious posts?

The short answer is nothing. Even assuming that you could prove malicious intent (malice) and proof of actual damages, the ordinary person does not have the time, money, and effort to pursue legal action to redress the injury—especially reputational damage. And, of course, most opinions, even those that are negative or mean-spirited, are often protected speech. Many harmful statements may not be provable to a legal standard, making any legal action a costly gamble.

Other than engaging in a flame war or suing an organization for wrongful termination, also difficult to prove, the best remedy is time – time for the brouhaha to pass and time to mount a robust social media counter-attack that floods the social media with your counter-statement.

However, short of doing and saying stupid things, the best defense is refusing to post on social media and find other ways to send a message. But, even emails, especially those that are archived locally or in the cloud, can prove to be problematic. Just ask the Obama-gate lovers, former F.B.I. Agent Peter Strzok and former F.B.I. Attorney Lisa Page.

Bottom line…

We live in perilous times, surrounded by petty and vicious people who have suddenly found a large platform for their vile comments. Even disaffected, unemployed, and unaccomplished teenagers in their mommy's basement can significantly impact individuals and organizations. Sometimes for giggles and sometimes just to belong to a crowd.

There are few defenses against evil other than living a virtuous life where you are at peace with yourself. Take responsibility for your own safety and security and insulate yourself from total dependence on your employer by developing multiple independent income streams.

Think before you write or like that post.

We are so screwed.

-- steve

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS