Cecil the Lion, Walter Palmer and the Psychology of Online Shaming

TIME

Walter Palmer, the U.S. dentist who shot and killed Cecil the lion while on a hunting trip in Zimbabwe is, not surprisingly, facing a barrage of hate, threats and shaming on social media.

Palmer’s River Bluff dental practice in Bloomington, Minnesota has been shut since news of the scandal broke with a throng of protesters campaigning outside. Meanwhile, Internet users have flooded his Yelp page with stinging “reviews” and calls to boycott his practice. He is quickly losing his reputation and his business.

Palmer has maintained that he didn’t know the hunt was illegal, nor that the lion he killed was collared or part of a study. But in the eyes of impassioned online commentators and celebrity tweeters, Palmer is an “instant villain.”

“Something like this, which involves a lion, touches so many nerves.” Glenn Selig, founder and chief strategist at The Publicity Agency, a PR firm that works…

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