HUMANS have always had the desire for public retribution.

Social media has been long likened to the village square - an online replacement for the space where people would gather and exchange news and gossip.

Village squares had the stocks and pillories, for shaming criminals. Their feet retrained, villagers could spit on them, tickle them, shout at them, throw fruit, any sort of torturous humiliation.

And just as social media copies the village square, so does it fulfil the desire for revenge by public humiliation.

Nowhere is this clearer than on Facebook community groups.

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Whether it's shaming bad parking or embarrassing local businesses for allowing refuse to build up on pavements, the desire to create these posts is hugely relatable.

No one likes to be the person who becomes wound up over the bins... but even the most relaxed renter or homeowner can get uptight about lazy landlords or business owners.

If you can't get your car parked because some selfish idiot who shouldn't be on the roads in the first place is taking up enough room for three vehicles or is blocking the pavement for wheelchairs or buggies - the rage is real.

The desire to post a photo online and have a cathartic rant is entirely understandable.

You know you're going to get support from people who are just as frustrated and it feels good to have your opinions validated.

It builds community spirit to be united against a common enemy.

And people, whether they are proud of it or not, enjoy revenge.

There's also the hope that a name and shame can change behaviours and stop the bad parking or the litter lout.

Sometimes, though, there can be a good excuse for leaving a car badly parked. Maybe the rubbish pile up isn't the business owner's fault.

And so they log in to Facebook to see their name being smeared - found guilty without a trial or even right to reply before publication and with very little chance to repair the reputational damage.

This is bad enough when adults are involved.

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But what about when children are the subject of community rage?

Last week a video was widely shared on social media that appeared to show an elderly man, walking home from the pub, being harassed by a group of young men.

It was shocking, it was unacceptable behaviour and it infuriated viewers.

The comments underneath made people's feelings completely clear - scum, bullies, rats, smelly b*******, and on and on.

One of the boys was named and his parent's business also identified.

The child's mother posted that she was horrified by her son's behaviour and that action was being taken by the family to ensure he doesn't do anything similar in the future.

So, in that sense, posting the video online achieved what it was supposed to.

The child was named and shamed, his parents became involved and the desire for "something to be done" was rewarded.

But is it right?

Last year a video taken in Glasgow of a group of young boys - as young as 10 - was shared online.

The film showed the children vandalising property and the participants were all easily identifiable.

One boy in particular was singled out and was subjected to serious threats.

These threats were so serious that he had to move from his home and has not been able to return.

It may not have been the intention of the people who shared to the video to cause a young child to be the victim of threats to his life but that was the outcome.

There was a long public debate over whether the age of criminal responsibility should be raised in Scotland from eight to 12 and it was decided that yes, it should.

The age at which the media could name perpetrators of crime was raised fairly recently from 16 to 18.

But on the internet there is no barrier to prevent images being shared - only to have them removed after the damage has been done.

The only barrier is the common sense of adults who need to be able to balance their desire to point the finger at misbehaving youths with enough empathy to realise that children do not always behave well or rationally and that subjecting them to the risk of physical threats from strangers is not the best way to solve the issue.

Children and young people tend to act up because of outside pressures such as difficult home lives or bullying. We don't punish them as adults for very good reasons.

They should not be put in the social media stocks.