Dec 232010
 December 23, 2010  Posted by  Online, Youth & Schools

Georgina Robinson reports:

A man who feared for his safety had to be escorted from his home by police after he was wrongly named on Facebook as a wanted serial killer in the United States.

A vigilante group posted the man’s name and photograph on Facebook and labelled him the “Kensington Strangler”, who is wanted in connection with at least three murders and several sexual assaults in Philadelphia, ABC America reported.

The Associated Press reported that residents of Kensington, who once severely beat a suspected rapist based on a police photo,  posted hundreds of comments and theories about the case on a Facebook page titled “Catch the Kensington Strangler, before he catches someone you love.”

Read the full article in The Age.

The article also contains some other examples about how reputations are being destroyed on the internet. While the vigilante case above is downright scary, a site that encourages children to post rumors about peers is scary in its own way.

As Daniel Solove wrote in the The Future of Reputation (2007), reputations can be destroyed quickly on the internet. Recent examples such as the posting of nude photos involving the St Kilda players by an upset teenager, the Tyler Clementi case, and other cases in Robinson’s article serve as timely reminders that private individuals can have their reputations and lives destroyed in a heartbeat on the internet.  Ideas that Dan proposed in The Future of Reputation were all good ideas, but we are seeing more and more kids or teens as privacy violators or sources of reputational harm.  While schools have started to address cyberbullying, where are the programs that really educate children about privacy and the responsibilities that come with free speech?

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