Oftentimes we see children who have misbehaved, in the eyes’ of their parents at least, being shamed across social media. But what if it were the parents who were being shamed for being negligent? In Kenya, a new Facebook group “Dead Beat Kenya” – which was founded Sept. 6 and already has 180,000 members – attempts to expose those who have refused to care for their children.
Jackson Nieru, one of the group’s administrators and founders, explains that “Dead Beat Kenya” targets both fathers and mothers and is supposed to help those who could not afford to go through a costly judicial process to make their claims.
Users can post photos, phone numbers and names as well as short descriptions of the alleged offenders. The posts are not immediately published, but need to be approved by one of the group’s administrators. Nieru claims that the information is checked and both sides contacted before the posts become visible in the group. Speaking to the BBC, he said that he had already been contacted by lawyers willing to work with mothers and fathers to reach settlements.
Journalists, businessmen and officers appear to be among the men and women publicly shamed in the group — men making up the vast majority of those accused. The group’s founders themselves seem to expect to face legal action. On Wednesday, Nieru posted a statement saying there was a possibility that lawyers were preparing suits against the administrators as well as Facebook commenters. “The people who send the information to us take full responsibility for it,” Nieru wrote.
While they may have started the group with good intentions, it seems that this probably won’t be able to last long. Their attempt to verify the facts is noble, but probably unrealistic. In fact, one man — who was shamed by a mother — said the accusations publicly made against him were wrong. “What she is saying is not true, and she is damaging my reputation… It is just a forum that is made to destroy relationships and put people on the line,” he told the BBC.
Besides, does public shaming ever really work?