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Online Shaming Websites Could Have Devastating Consequences

(CBS) -- It's called public shaming and it's the online way to get even. Mad at someone? Now you can find an online website to complain about them.

But be careful, the consequences could be devastating. CBS 2's Marissa Bailey reports, you may want to think twice before you post.

Got a homewrecker in your life? Now you can go online and get back at them.

Boyfriend being lazy? Why confront him. Just post your complaint.

"When you shame someone publicly, you create a narrative about that person that has only one side to it," said Carrie Goldman, author of the book "Bullied."

Hate your neighbor's Christmas decorations? Again, just post your complaint.

Object to overweight people? There are sights where you can tell them.

There are even sites calling out guys for taking up too much space on public transit.

Virtual shaming is real and it can happen to anyone. Sometimes victims know about it, and sometimes they don't.

"I think it is immature, but I think it comes more from a place of insecurity," Goldman said. "We have this unpleasant human instinct."

Highlighting someone's faults or perceived bad behavior online may feel good initially for the shamer. But as public relations expert Erika Kauffman says, the results can be devastating.

"They are going to ruin people's careers, they are going to ruin people's lives," Kauffman said.
And it could be everlasting on the web.

"Is your three, four days of increased social media activity and new Twitter followers worth 10 years to somebody or more of their life," Goldman said.

What if you're not the shamer or the victim but the person who just watches the videos and maybe likes the shaming pictures? Goldman says you could be just as culpable.

"If you click like, if you retweet, if you share, if you comment, you are now adding to that storm of frenzy around it," she said.

Could publicly shaming someone get you sued? Maybe. If you're just scolding someone for rude behavior, probably not. But, accusing someone of something illegal is another story.

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