Saturday, January 12, 2013

Anderson Cooper "KTH" on Florida professor's conspiracy theory is significant for online reputation


An Anderson Cooper KTH (“Keeping Them Honest”) report on Friday night again underlined another concern about online reputation.

The report concerned an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University, James Tracy, who launched on a blog a story that Newtown had been staged as a government anti-gun conspiracy.  The link is (website url) here

The University says that the blog expresses the views of Tracy alone, and do not represent the position of the University.  Nevertheless, I have sometimes noted the “conflict of interest” problems inherent when people in positions of authority speak out in a manner contradictory (real or apparent) to their responsibilities. 

Anderson also interviewed Jonathan Kay, author of “Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conpiracist Underground” (Harper, 2011).  Kay said that the Internet, since it encourages or allows user generated content and self-publishing, tends to contain a larger percentage of content that is extreme in one form or another.  When names are mentioned in extremist posts, they may for a while move to the top of search engine rankings on the names, possibly affecting the reputations of the individuals or families involved.  This seems to have happened with one or two of the families in the Newtown tragedy. 

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