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The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Abstract

In this talk, Daniel J. Solove discusses how gossip and rumor on the Internet are affecting the lives of school students in some profound and troubling ways.

Teeming with chat rooms, online discussion groups, and blogs, the Internet offers previously unimagined opportunities for personal expression and communication. But there’s a dark side to the story. A trail of information fragments about us is forever preserved on the Internet, instantly available in a Google search. A permanent chronicle of our private lives—often of dubious reliability and sometimes totally false—will follow us wherever we go, accessible to friends, strangers, dates, employers, neighbors, relatives, and anyone else who cares to look.

People—especially teenagers and college students—are increasingly spilling their most personal secrets as well as intimate details about their families and friends, in blogs and on social networking sites. In a world where anyone can publish any thought to a worldwide audience, how should we balance privacy and free speech? How should the law protect people when harmful gossip and rumors are spread about them on the Internet?

Daniel Solove is the John Marshall Harlan Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School and the founder of TeachPrivacy, a company that helps schools develop a comprehensive privacy program.

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