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Jan. 17, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

EDITOR’S ADVISORY: SRU professor offer social media misrepresentation expertise

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. –Douglas Strahler, a Slippery Rock University communication instructor, is co-author of a chapter in the soon-to-be-released book “Regulating Social Media” that deals with such issues as this week’s major news story involving a “cyber girlfriend” of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

Strahler is available for reporter’s questions at 724.813.7184 (during the current winter break) or in his office at 724.738.2566 after classes resume Jan. 28.

Te’o, the 2012 Heisman Trophy runner up and Notre Dame star, has said he was the victim of a “cruel joke.” Notre Dame and others are investigating the incident.

“Regulating Social Media,” is edited by Susan Drucker and Gary Gumpert and is being published by Peter Lang Publishers.

The SRU professors’ chapter, “Transparency, Misrepresentation and Social Media,” is designed to explore whether or not social media have created more transparency for individuals, companies and government. Because Web 2.0 technologies have created opportunities for interactivity, this overall sharing of information will have important consequences for society, they write.

The authors focus on the misrepresentation of identity and reputation and provide an intelligent discussion of transparency, including involuntary transparency, misrepresentation and even registered avatars.

Their work also provides a survey of cases, including that involving Tony La Russa, former Major League Baseball manager and infielder, as examples of misrepresentation from a social media venue.

La Russa sued Twitter in 2009 over a fake page established under his name. He claimed he “suffered significant emotional distress [and] damage to reputation" because of the profile. The fake profile made several "distasteful references."

Twitter policy prohibits users from impersonation directly, adding users "may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others." It is unclear if the case has settled.

The SRU authors also include a discussion of other thesis about the role of code in this era of rapidly changing technological norms.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.