A central paradox of the Internet as we know it is that there’s no privacy unless you’re there to invade someone else’s. Indeed, while living our lives online has effectively signaled the end of privacy for people as subjects, it provides a veil of anonymity for anyone who wants to use it. The Internet lets people bully, badmouth, berate, and spread misinformation without having to show their faces or sign their names. The resulting effects of the Internet on speech, privacy, and reputation are the subjects of The Offensive Internet, a new collection of essays edited by Saul Levmore, William B. Graham Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, and Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.
From the book’s introduction, written by Levmore and Nussbaum:
“The speed with which reputations can be made and altered is just one way in which the Internet has changed everything. It surely is the case that most of the changes are for the better but, sadly, the Internet is a curse when one is the subject of negative information, whether self-presented, and then indelible, or communicated by others. And yet the Internet has changed nothing, which is to say it has returned us to the world of the village.”