Californians Shame Their Neighbors With a New "Drought Shaming" App.

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The data revolution is upon us, folks, and we are using it to shame our neighbors for wasting water during a drought

VisSafe is an app that is meant to function like a neighborhood watch message board. People can post pictures or video of suspicious behavior. But according to the LA Times, users in California have found a novel use for the app - publicly naming and shaming people for wasting water during a drought:

[Peter Mottur, chief executive of Rhode Island-based Vizsafe:] "People have a right to hold others accountable and that is what I think we are doing."

Privately reporting excessive water use or leaks that have gone unnoticed is "fantastic," said Karen North, a professor of social media and psychology at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

"But to the extent that people then publicly shame each other for that behavior," she said, it could force "a lot of really solid compliance, but it can also lead to a lot of animosity."

Way back in the second episode of TLDR, I said "the internet isn't really capable of a measured response...it doesn't matter whether you're getting scorn or praise, you'll almost certainly get more than you deserve." This feels like object lesson in that dynamic. On the one hand, it will almost certainly shame some bad actors into better behavior, and the drought conditions in California are pretty severe. On the other hand, it could have undue impact on businesses or individuals that is simply not commensurate with the water wasting they may be doing.