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A Tangled Web

Sticks and stones may break bones, but I beg to differ with the rest of that saying. Words can hurt and they do every day. Look at examples of involving the spread of false, and often outrageous, information that has caused irreparable harm to reputations and worse. Without even going into the most horrific examples, just consider the issues raised by the posting of cruel, and untrue, biographical information about John Seigenthaler Sr., on the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia that purported the assistant to the attorney general in the early 1960s had been implicated in the assasinations of both John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy.This false information, posted on a site that claims to correct inaccurate information within minutes, actually went unchanged for months. The damage was extended when the defamatory information was picked up by a couple of search engines. Wikipedia has since changed policy to require posters register first but the site still doesn't demand enough information to be able to completely trace the posters.

I am no Luddite but I am concerned, mostly because I can't come up with an answer to how to keep us from going farther down a path of destruction. The Web has given those with a penchant for malicious behavior - and even evil -- a platform that eliminates the geographic boundaries that had previously confined them or at least limited their negative impact. But the real draw of the Web for those intent on destruction is the anonymity, real or at least perceived, it offers. And maybe therein lies the answer for curtailing misinformation but I suspect it is already too late for that.