"Well, you're certainly the most Googleable candidate we've ever had," the partner interviewing me said and smiled. I winced and looked at the ground. This moment had been a source of stomach-sinking angst for nearly a year, since I first read the words, typed by a stranger: "Why are you such a whore, Caitlin? P.S. I'm going to ruin your career." And in the months that followed, it seemed that he might. Perhaps a little background is in order. In the fall of 2005, I had been admitted to Yale Law School during the previous application cycle and was deferring for a year, so I decided to spend some time getting to know my prospective classmates. I, along with many other Yale "OLs," started regularly posting messages on www.lawschooldiscussion.org, a message board primarily devoted to the law school admissions process. I posted under a pseudonym, but on another site, www.lawschoolnumbers.com, which tracks success in the admissions process relative to GPA, LSAT score, and "soft factors," I provided some personal information, such as my undergraduate school name and the fact that I had been Editor-in-Chief of its student newspaper. That was enough to prompt a poster at www.autoadmit.com, a largely unmoderated discussion board for law and, less frequently, pre-law students, to start a thread in which my resume was dissected and my name and pictures were posted. Someone emailed me a link to the thread, and I went online to respond to, among other things, the allegation that I had lied on my application to Yale. My participation in the thread prompted a proliferation of others and a cascade of increasingly malicious content assailing my personality, my intelligence, and, most often, my looks. I, in turn, pushed back harder, verbally sparring with self-appointed "board leaders."
"Swimming Downstream: Battling Defamatory Online Content via Acquiescence,"
Yale Journal of Law & Feminism: Vol. 19
, Article 8.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlf/vol19/iss1/8