2010-10-20 [Press Release] Author and Privacy Expert to Appear on CNN to Discuss Yale Frat Pledge Video

For Immediate Release

Frederick Lane

Author, Educational Consultant, Lecturer



Burlington, VT — Frederick Lane, an expert on Internet privacy and social
media and the author of “American Privacy: The 400-Year-History of Our Most
Contested Right,” is scheduled to appear this afternoon (10/20) on CNN
Newsroom with anchor Brooke Baldwin. The interview will air at
approximately 3:30 PM EST.

Lane was contacted by CNN to discuss a YouTube video of Yale fraternity
pledges marching blindfolded through campus while shouting obscene chants. A
brief story on the incident and a link to the video can be found on Salon: http://www.salon.com/life/broadsheet/2010/10/15/yale_fraternity_pledges_chant_about_rape.

“Although it’s not possible to identify any of the participants in the
YouTube video,” Lane said, “the fact that this clip has spread so rapidly and
garnered so much attention underscores the shifting privacy landscape in this
country. Given the fact that virtually every student carries a cellphone capable
of taking photographs or videos that can instantly be uploaded to the Web, the
zone of youthful indiscretion is rapidly shrinking.”

A sign of things to come is the Delaware U.S. Senate race, Lane noted. In
that race, both candidates are being challenged by things that they wrote or
said when they were much younger. Coons (Lane’s classmate and debate partner at
Amherst College) wrote an article about his evolution from Republican to
Democrat that he jokingly labeled “The Making of a Bearded Marxist,” while his
opponent O’Donnell is busy rebutting outrageous comments she made on Bill
Maher’s comedy/politics cable show.

“In twenty years or so,” Lane predicted, “people who do opposition research
for political campaigns are going to have a staggering amount of material to
use. Not only is this generation of teens and twenty-somethings struggling with
how best to balance technology, privacy, and decency, but search engines and
social networks are developing tools that are specifically designed to eliminate

Among others things, Lane said, companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple
are investing in sophisticated face-recognition tools that will enable them to
offer automatic photo tagging services to their customers. While that will
undoubted be a boon for sorting the family vacation photos, it will heighten the
likelihood that potentially embarrassing photos or videos will pop up in search

“One of interesting questions,” Lane suggested, “is whether the ubiquity of
recording devices and the ability of images and videos to go global will change
personal behavior. This was a question raised by English philosopher Jeremy
Bentham when he proposed the panopticon, a prison in which inmates could be held
under constant surveillance (an idea later developed by George Orwell in “1984”
and John Major in his campaign for prime minister). The idea is that if people
think that they are constantly being watched, they will regulate their own

The other possibility, Lane said, is that societal norms of behavior will
change, in which case YouTube video clips of a Senate candidate
drunkenly playing beer pong won’t disqualify him or her from seeking office. At
the very least, political ads will get steadily more interesting (and

For information about Lane’s publications and speaking services, please visit
http://www.FrederickLane.com .

To contact Frederick Lane to arrange an interview about the Duke incident,
the recent Rutgers tragedy, or other issues of student privacy and social media,
please e-mail him at  FSLane3@gmail.com or call 802-318-4604.

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