Patt Morrison for November 17, 2010

Tar, feathers and Facebook: Huntington Beach considers public shaming to deter drunk driving

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San Francisco police officers check drivers at a sobriety checkpoint December 26, 2004 in San Francisco, California. Authorities are ramping up their efforts this year to combat drunk driving.

From tar-and-featherings and the stockades to websites like don’ and Las Vegas newspapers, public shaming is nothing new, but now the city of Huntington Beach may be taking the humiliation to new social media extremes. A city council member has suggested posting the names of all drunk drivers on the city’s Facebook page as a way to ensure public shaming of violators. Those records are already public, but will Facebook prove to be the vehicle of change? It happened in New Jersey, where the township of Evesham posted the names and mugshots of drunk drivers to its Facebook page but had to take them down after four days due to the massive amounts of tagging and comments. Can Huntington Beach harness social media to keep its streets safer, or is this merely an ineffective age-old practice dressed up in new technology?


Devin Dwyer, member of the Huntington Beach City Council

Julie M. Albright, Research Assistant Professor, Dept of Sociology at USC

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