Debbie Laskey, MBA
By the time you read this post, hopefully the buzz surrounding Miley Cyrus and the Video Music Awards show will have evaporated into thin air. But there was another related story surrounding the event that generated a ton of buzz on Twitter.
On the day after the awards show, an editorial appeared on the The Onion’s website featuring the photo, name, and title of the managing editor of CNN.com. Yes, you read that correctly. Despite some inappropriate language that did not seem fitting for the managing editor’s position, it appeared that the post had been written by the person stated.
But later that afternoon, Meredith Artley, Managing Editor of CNN.com posted on Twitter:
August 26 – 2:46pm:
To clarify, I did not write this. But I accept all compliments and deny all accusations. Tx for the page views.
August 26 – 3:01pm:
@socialnerdia @TheOnion I’m reading it as more of a joke than something to call the legal team about.
However, many readers were misled. The editorial could easily have been written by the Managing Editor of CNN.com because her name, photo, and title were prominently displayed at the top of the page. The content was detailed enough to understand the nuances of the CNN website, despite some unprofessional word choices.
But at the end of the day, what recourse did Ms. Artley have? Sure, the CNN legal team could have sued The Onion for defamation of character for both herself and the news site. But, would that have been the best use of financial resources for CNN? Would that have looked bad for CNN? Would there have been a conflict of interest if one journalism entity sues another for freedom of speech? And how many celebrities do you know who have sued the tabloids for defamation? Most lawsuits are long and drawn out, difficult to prove and even harder to win, and let’s not forget, very expensive. There have been famous defamation lawsuits filed by Carol Burnett, Kate Winslet, James Franco, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and Oprah.
But, let’s consider the little guy – you and me. What would we do if a similar situation happened to us? How can we make sure that someone out there in Internet-land doesn’t assume our identities and upload inappropriate posts with our names?
Do we need some form of biometrics to upload content to the Internet? Is that the wave of the future to protect against these types of situations? What do you think?