Introducing LinkedIn “influencer” Mr Don P, and his recent front-page feature diatribe with the unintentionally ironic title, “You Can’t Shame a Crook“. In the text Don argues in favor of the horrifying proposition that linked in professionals should use social media platforms to expose any perceived bad behavior among their colleagues, co-workers, and society at large. Transparency, he calls it and he begins with a travel story in the manner of New York Times clown Tom Friedman. He’d been to a conference. Then, after tugging on your heartstrings with a more-or-less totally unrelated sob-story about a dying little girl, Don finally stumbles upon the crux of his argument and issues demands that all legal oversight is removed from business. Regulation is not necessary, argues ahead-of-the-curve P, since we now have social media platforms that can combat crime and corruption on the spot.
In his own words:
“From there we transitioned to insider trading and the rationale for policing it better simply by decriminalizing it and using transparency to minimize its financial payoff. Real-time reporting requirements coupled with social media tools could generate real-time transparency, making it virtually impossible for an insider to gain very much […] when shame does fail to deter a crook, we can still turn to prosecution […] and where prosecution is not warranted, sometimes we can also use “crowd punishment.”” Don P, LinkedIn Member, 22/3/2013
Not only is his argument insane, it is illogical and badly written. He begins by calling for decriminalization and goes on to state we can still turn to prosecution, which doesn’t make sense. How can we prosecute something that we have decriminalized? Yet we have no time to consider this Friedmanesque logical error, since our heads are still spinning from the excruciating phrase “does fail to deter”. Before we can recover our composure, P strikes dismissing the efficacy of prosecution altogether and promoting persecution instead; what we need, he implies, is a new-media back-sliding into the tried and trusty methods of slander, harassment, public humiliation, banishment, and exile.
Adria Richards, a former software developer, got fired for doing what Don P suggests just last week, but obviously Don doesn’t know that since he never even conducted a minimum amount of research into his article and most likely did what Tom Friedman always does – thought it all through on the flight back from his latest business-trip. Since the only alternative to mob rule that P has to offer – simultaneous decriminalization and prosecution – is internally inconsistent we may only conclude that Don P is either like Friedman a man who married a fabulously rich woman and simply doesn’t care anymore, a raving pro-business nut who will say anything for money and self-publicity, or an idiot with wealthy parents. A charismatic idiot perhaps, well liked for his amusing and bizarre online pronouncements among his 53,047 guffawing followers.
Don P concluded his despicable little treatise by asking his hapless readers “what are your thoughts?”, and since he asked for feedback he is going to get it. I have a question for him, which I cannot ask on LinkedIn because I would be hit with the ban-stick for contravening their restrictions on free speech. I also have no doubt that if I did I would immediately get some up-close and personal experience of the kind of mob rule he envisions. My question then, is one not subject to the constraints of corporate control and neither does it come from some mythical corporate cloud; rather, it comes if not from the heart then from the server in my basement: Don, who the fuck are you and your followers to determine what is and is not lawful behavior? Abusing social media platforms to get people fired will only serve to get you fired as well. Ask Adria how it worked out for her. You want to fuck people’s real-world jobs up on your virtual social networks and you might just find that your courts and your customers can already deliver “crowd-punishment” writ large.