Hiring a libel service

This is a funny post and thought-provoking post, which on second thought almost (but perhaps not quite) sounds like a good idea.

Basically, you’d hire a “libel service” to randomly defame you on the internet, so that whenever anyone says something bad about you on Twitter or Facebook, or in the comments area of some newspaper, you could just say “that’s probably my libel service.” No one would know whether the defamatory statements were true or not, and people would be predisposed to doubt anything too terrible that’s said about you. 

This is all based on something Neal Stephenson came up with in a new novel, Fall, or Dodge in Hell. I almost sort of think it sounds like it could work.

Or maybe not. Stephenson suggests not really:

But Stephenson’s new book adds another takeaway: In the novel, Pluto’s automated-defamation scheme does actually work for some high percentage of the population, who learn to think more critically about stuff they came across on the internet and elsewhere in our media culture. …But there’s also an irreducible fraction of people who continue to cherry-pick narratives, whether true or false, solely on the criterion of whether the narratives confirm their cherished beliefs. They won’t be newly sophisticated media skeptics or discriminating news consumers—instead they’ll commit to the path of confirmation bias

Unfortunately, that seems highly plausible.

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2 thoughts on “Hiring a libel service”

  1. A while back you mentioned pirating books. This finally came up recently in an NYT story about how Amazon pretty much encourages it:

    But authors have it easy, in comparison to musicians. Here are some stories about working in the music industry just when CDs took off, until Napster came on line. The entire business imploded when people decided they would rather listen to pirated music without paying.



  2. I’ve heard musicians are pretty much 100% screwed at this point. Hopefully a better model for both books and music will emerge fairly soon.

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