French student Marie Laguerre was heading home along Paris’ 19th arrondissement earlier this year, when she was harassed by a man she walked past. The 22 year old told him to “shut up” after the man repeatedly insulted her, wagged his tongue at her and made suggestive groaning noises. He responded to her by throwing an ashtray at her, and then hitting her “in the middle of the street, in front of dozens of people”, in broad daylight.

Ms Laguerre shared CCTV footage of the incident, and it went viral. Marlene Schiappa, gender equality minister, said the assault was an attack on the “freedom of women”, and she has pledged to introduce on-the-spot fines for harassment, including wolf-whistling. Firas M, as the man involved is known, has been sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of €2,000.

Violent confrontations often go viral.

In May this year, a Canadian woman literally lost her shit, when she wasn’t allowed to use a Tim Horton’s restroom. After her request to use the loo was denied, she decided to use the store instead, pulling down her trousers and defecating and then flinging it at the employee who had said no. Security footage was shared on YouTube and then quickly deleted, but it had already made its way into the viral ether, and has been shared and commented by social media followers worldwide.

On 30 September, 27-year old Marie-Claire Bissonnette was participating in a peaceful protest against abortion. In footage captured by Ms Bissonnette, who started recording when a man she had accused of defacing signs at the annual Life Chain street demonstration, became increasingly aggressive as he challenged her views about abortion rights for victims of rape. Pro-lifer Ms Bissonnette voiced her opinion that babies conceived from rape are still “a baby” and that abortion was “killing” and the man performed a roundhouse kick that knocked Ms Bissonnette’s phone to the ground. The man defended himself as he fled the scene, saying he was aiming for her phone, not her.

We’re rarely off camera nowadays: CCTV; body-cameras; smart phones. And in certain cases, footage from smart phones is admissible in court. Even if it’s not, usually for technical reasons, beware viral villains if you’re caught in an affray. If that footage is posted on-line, you could end up social media fodder.