Wednesday, May 20, 2020

"When a kind friend deleted the line from my Wikipedia page, out of concern for my family, it was added again nearly immediately"

A current writer for the New Yorker:

my mom, being a proud and loving mother who likes to send stories about me to her friends, has searched my name online regularly for years, despite my protests. She recently alerted me to the fact that details about [a criminal case involving my parents from several years earlier] had been added to my Wikipedia page. A post was circulating on Tumblr about it, and on Twitter . . . and by Friday . . . people were posting about how my parents were human traffickers. The vibe was that this was some sort of wild, ironic gotcha. Here I was, a writer who had made a whole thing of being concerned with public morality, who had managed to project some aura of decency and transparency, and my parents were—as far as anyone who’d come across this juicy nugget was concerned—international criminals who had built their lives off exploiting other people, off their suffering and pain.

Over the following week it was made clear to me that more and more people were discussing this situation as a reputational time bomb that was going to be especially exciting to see go off.