Last Thursday in Privacy: A fireside chat with Jon Ronson on privacy

Jon Ronson, renowned author and documentarian, will be joining Joe Tidy, BBC News Correspondent for a virtual fireside chat on June 25th to discuss his forte into privacy, and how he went from being a journalist exposing people’s secrets to becoming more cognizant with people’s right to privacy. 

As a writer, Jon is an international bestseller, his impressive resume includes books such as; ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ ‘The Psychopath Test’ and ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’ which was later turned into a film starring George Clooney among others. He has become best known for his informal but sceptical investigations of controversial fringe politics, science, and online privacy.

In his book ‘Shamed’ Jon wittingly explores the very real consequences of online shaming in the digital age. He brings attention to social platforms’ tendency to promote dogmatic reasoning and its ability to decontextualise a situation, statement or moment. Facilitated by a surveillance society in which a surplus of information about ourselves can be voluntarily published online for an audience to interpret, Jon argues that online shaming could push us towards a society that is intolerable and unwilling to understand the complexities of being human.

In 2012 Jon was impersonated online by a Twitter ‘bot’. An algorithm that was created by three academics scraped his Wikipedia page and began participating online as Jon, although in extremely disconcerting ways. After investigation, Jon confronted its creators who eventually agreed to remove the bot after a scurry of public shaming had commenced. To further understand this dark side of the participatory internet, the book investigates other prominent cases of online shaming and their instigators. Namely, the disgraced New York journalist Jonah Lehrer, Adria Richards and Justine Sacco. These targets faced varying detrimental consequences in their material lives such as loss of a career, mental health issues and social isolation.

Since, Jon has revealed that he is now a lot more cautious about what he shares online. His case raises a plethora of concerns surrounding the right to privacy in public spaces, how traditional conceptions of privacy have changed with technology, and how a society that is deeply invested in voluntarily oversharing online can result in social alienation.

On his upcoming fireside chat which will be part of Last Thursday in Privacy webinar series, Jon Ronson stated:

“I’m really excited to talk to the Data Protection World Forum [for the Last Thursday in Privacy webinar series]. I’d like to talk about why I changed from being a journalist who enjoyed exposing people’s secrets to one much more cognizant of people’s right to privacy. And try and figure out whether that’s good or bad!”

To hear from Jon Ronson, and his views on privacy, register your place today. 


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