by David Williams, HNN Freelance Correspondent
COLUMN: Facebook the New Equalizer

Is Facebook becoming the new equalizer? Upset residents are using popular social media platforms and groups to shame other residents into following laws or just living up to acceptable living standards.

Residents of West Huntington have been upset by the activity of prostitutes in their neighborhoods. Not only does prostitution help support local drug dealers, spread diseases, make it unsafe for children outside, but they also attract sexual predators into the area.

Frustrated by the large traffic of girls and male johns, neighbors have been taking matters into their own hands. Neighbors have formed Facebook groups such as Johns of Huntington. They have been posting pictures of men picking up women.

This morning I have seen other posts designed to discourage undesirable behavior by threatening to shame offenders on Facebook.

Sometimes, this process works as people do not want pictures of themselves online exhibiting embarrassing behavior. If done correctly this could limit the embarrassing activity....but it can disrupt police investigations like an investigation of johns was a few weeks ago. The persons must also realize that it is hard to prove a person's intent by a picture. There have been pictures posted of cars sitting in front of known drug houses, but it is hard to prove that a person sitting in front of a house really bought drugs....or if a man bought sex or gave a girl a ride home. Such postings that a damage a person's reputation can lead to a lawsiit.

Concerned residents want to get involved and help....that is understandable and commendable but could lead to unintentional violence. It is not always safe to confront people breaking the law.

Spreading awareness of the drug epidemic by posting pictures did lead to more awareness and to more people lending a hand to fight the epidemic.

Social media is giving more citizens a voice in their community. It can also help spread the reccomendationof real problems and concerns. It gives the little man a chance to stand up against large problems.

Here are a couple of posts on Facebook today:

This posted had a picture of trash in a yard.

"I’m just gonna start trash shaming people that refuse to clean up their trash on my morning walks around the neighborhood"

Here's another post from last month

"I have nicely reminded people to please pick up after their dogs