Mug Shots: Getting Ugly in Florida

Robert Downey, Jr. mugshot courtesy of The Smoking Gun
Sherlock Holmes gets booked
For many years, The Smoking Gun has been publishing booking photos of celebrities. It’s all public record, but it does seem a bit like kicking someone when they’re down.  How sorry we feel for the perpetrators, of course, has a great deal to do with what they are arrested for.

Still and all, these celebrities do bring it on themselves a bit. They court publicity in every other aspect of their lives, so it would seem…ungracious…of us not to give it to them during their lows as well as their highs.

But now things appear to have reached a new level. The common man is having his mug shot posted online, at least if he’s arrested in Florida.  According to Wired magazine:

…one of the latest niche industries on the web [is] the mug-shot racket. Exploiting Florida’s liberal public-records laws and Google’s search algorithms, a handful of entrepreneurs are making real money by publicly shaming people who’ve run afoul of Florida law. Florida.arrests.org, the biggest player, now hosts more than 4 million mugs.

One websbite puts up your mug shot and notifies Google. You find out and pay someone else hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to force them to take it down and have your mugshots removed from Google. Am I alone in cynically believing that at least some of the people you pay are actually the same people putting up the shots in the first place?

Frankly, I’d rather have my only mug shot be bourbon in my coffee.

Robert Downey, Jr. mugshot via The Smoking Gun.

Comments

  1. Craig Pittman

    “Wired” is a little tardy to the party with this story. It’s been buzzing around for a while now, and raising questions among some journalists. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Matt Waite, who designed the St. Petersburg Times’ “Tampa Bay Mugshots” site (as well as its “Politifact” site) did a live webchat two years ago to answer some of those questions. You can read that, as well as some background on the issues, here: [url=http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/95107/archived-chat-the-ethics-of-posting-mug-shots-online/]http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/95107/archived-chat-the-ethics-of-posting-mug-shots-online/[/url]

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