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

Social media can be a major benefit in many aspects of life. However, there can also be a dangerous, revealing side to being active on social media. Daniel J. Solove’s book “The Future of Reputation” highlights the negative side to social media.

The story began on a train in South Korea, when a woman’s dog pooped on the train. The woman was asked to pick up the feces by the other passengers, but refused. Upon her rude refusal, the situation moved to cyberspace and became ugly. “Within house, she was labeled gae-ttong-nyue (dog shit girl) and her picture and parodies were everywhere.” Later, the story moved to the mainstream media, which then became national news.

Unfortunately, this is not the first or only situation that blew up, though not a major issue. The sharing of personal information online has become more and more popular. “These fragments of information won’t fade away with time, and they can readily by located by any curious individual.” Solove even claims that “the free flow on information on the Internet can make us less free.”

Information was not always so readily accessible. It used to be more scattered, forgettable, and localized, as explained by Solove. Now, it is permanent and in the “teenage” or “adolescent” stage of its life; “brash, uninhibited, unruly, fearless, experimental, and often not mindful of the consequences of its behavior.” Had it not been for the connection to the internet, the dog poop girl would have been easily forgotten, but people used the power of the internet to “enforce a norm.” Since the dog poop girl did not exhibit a social norm, people took it upon themselves to correct the problem passive aggressively.

“Many of us today—especially children and teenagers—are spending more of our lives on the internet.” Today’s society is focused on the connection to internet, and it is often the first place to go when an outrageous situation happens in public. However, the information never goes away. In the situation of the dog poop girl, she will forever be known as the girl who did not pick up the poop from her dog on the train. This goes for others who post personal information of themselves or others. That information stays forever and could make or break their reputation.

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