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Opinion
Megan McArdle

We Live in Fear of the Online Mobs

Internet shaming spreads everywhere and lives forever. We need a way to fight it.
Mob rule used to be limited by geography.

Mob rule used to be limited by geography.

Source: Culture Club, via Getty Images

James Damore, the author of the notorious Google memo, has had his 15 minutes of fame. In six months, few of us will be able to remember his name. But Google will remember -- not the company, but the search engine. For the rest of his life, every time he meets someone new or applies for a job, the first thing they will learn about him, and probably the only thing, is that he wrote a document that caused an internet uproar.

The internet did not invent the public relations disaster, or the summary firing to make said disaster go away. What the internet changed is the scale of the disasters, and the number of people who are vulnerable to them, and the cold implacable permanence of the wreckage they leave behind.