The Future of Reputation

Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet

Daniel J. Solove
(Yale University Press 2007)

What information about you is available on the Internet?

What if it’s wrong, humiliating, or true but regrettable?

Will it ever go away?

Teeming with chatrooms, 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. This engrossing book, brimming with amazing examples of gossip, slander, and rumor on the Internet, explores the profound implications of the online collision between free speech and privacy.

Daniel Solove, an authority on information privacy law, offers a fascinating account of how the Internet is transforming gossip, the way we shame others, and our ability to protect our own reputations. Focusing on blogs, Internet communities, cyber mobs, and other current trends, he shows that, ironically, the unconstrained flow of information on the Internet may impede opportunities for self-development and freedom. Longstanding notions of privacy need review, the author contends: unless we establish a balance among privacy, free speech, and anonymity, we may discover that the freedom of the Internet makes us less free.

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Praise For The Book

“[The Future of Reputation is] a fascinating mix of sociology, legal theory and speculation. . . . Solove marshals a wide range of literary, historical and legal references. He’s read widely and thought hard about this devilishly complex situation.”

— David Freeman, Pajamas Media

“Timely and provocative, The Future of Reputation explores a principal dilemma of our age and provides a workable solution that may appeal to readers on both sides of the debate.”

— Harvard Law Review

“[E]xcellent . . . . will increase our literacy in [this] complex yet still intelligible [field]. . . .Like many ‘cyberphilosophers’, [Solove is] discovering the future in the present with less wonted gloom and doom — and more incisive solutions — than many traditional literary and humanistic pronouncers on the subject.”

— Carlin Romano, Times Literary Supplement (UK)

“[A] brilliant recent book . . . an honest and troubling account of the ways that we have become our own enemies.”

— Siva Vaidyanathan, The Chronicle of Higher Education

“Solove’s crisp and refreshing writing . . . achiev[es] a balance of humor and levity that keeps the pages turning and demonstrates a real understanding of and engagement with the youthful Internet culture he analyzes.”

— Bram Strochlick, Harvard Crimson

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