Patt Morrison for October 1, 2010

Has the explosion of social networks made the invasion of privacy acceptable?

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Matt Cardy/Getty Images

How much privacy do we have or should we be afforded in a day and age of computers, Twitter, and Facebook?

“Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” One hundred and forty characters and a live stream later, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi jumped to his death off the Washington Bridge into the Hudson River. Three days earlier, his Rutgers roommate Dharun Ravi had streamed from a hidden camera live video of Clementi making out with another boy in his dorm room. The September 22 death is the latest apparent suicide by a young American to follow the online posting of intrusive material. In response, Rutgers University is kicking off a two-year effort to teach the importance of civility, focusing on the abuse of new technology. But does Clementi’s death argue for tougher laws against malicious acts online? Does new technology require new ethics? And is there any realistic expectation of privacy in the age of Facebook?


Karen Sternheimer, professor of sociology at USC specializing in media, youth, and culture

Phillip Malone, Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Director of Harvard’s Cyber Law Clinic at the Berkman Center

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