Does Shaming Have A Place On Social Media?

By Rachel Thompson

As long as people converse in a public forum, there are bound to be disagreements. In an ideal world, we’re adults and can disagree on a particular topic without it degenerating into a flame war. Social media is great for having polite discourse on all kinds of topics, and that’s one of the reasons I love it so.

Alternatively, as long as people will converse in a public forum, there will be those who feel the need to ‘shame’ others.

Let’s deconstruct.


If you’re on Twitter, no doubt you’ve seen the tweets that say, ‘I have 5 new followers today and 1 who unfollowed.’ Honestly, does anyone really care? It’s a waste-of-space tweet. However, this apparently means something to some folks, who post these conversation fillers throughout the day. Some people don’t like those types of ‘non-tweets’ so they unfollow or sometimes even block. And that’s okay. We all curate our own streams.

Others take it further, however. They want to publicly ‘Twitter shame’ people for unfollowing by naming those who unfollow, announcing it to their world of Twitter followers that someone dared unfollow them. Gasp!

I don’t really get that whole mindset. Did people join Twitter to see how many followers you lost or gained in a day? There’s a whole world of cool stuff to discuss and besides, it’s just Twitter. We can follow, or unfollow, anyone we want at any time. What’s the point in ‘shaming’ someone for doing what the platform is set up to allow us to do?

Sharing interesting content, promoting others, sharing resources and information, excerpts, quotes — so many others ways to brand ourselves as authors.


Stories abound lately of some tweeps making horribly racist comments (Miss America, anyone?), or even threatening people who simply expressed their own beliefs — primarily aimed at women (one in particular Caroline Criado-Perez, who became a target after she organized a successful campaign to have author Jane Austen appear on a British bank note.). Those making the horrible comments were quickly ‘shamed’ by enraged tweeps, several arrests were made, and Twitter even upgraded its abuse policy.

Racism, hate speech, and threats don’t belong well, anywhere, but especially on social media. Or maybe I’m wrong here — what do you think?


Sometimes we disagree with, and perhaps even dislike, someone. Rather than simply unfollowing or even blocking, some people instead engage in an all-out war of words (this is particularly evident when discussing polarizing subjects like religion or politics), pulling in allies to attack ‘the enemy.’

Remember, above all, we are authors. We are on social media to build up our fan base, meet readers, connect with others through relationship-building. We have a product (our books). Sure, we’re people too, with strong beliefs which we are allowed to discuss; but I encourage you to avoid getting into a flame war with someone who disagrees with you. There’s never a winner.

Instead, try to see things from their point of view. If you can’t, just unfollow. If it gets ugly and they decide to publicly shame you for having a differing point of view, decide whether it’s worth having them around at all. If not, block.

It’s easy to get our feathers ruffled and disagree with others who hold different beliefs. Put two people in a room and there will be disagreements. Twitter, Facebook, any social media is no different, except the room is virtual.

What are your thoughts? Does shaming have a place on social media?