Anonymity aint what it used to be.
The Miami Herald announced today that it is outsourcing its comment function to Facebook. Concluding that ‘the cloak of anonymity stifles respectful debate,’ we must assume that they’ve had enough of those who can’t stand behind their own words. Perhaps they should have referenced the ‘cloak of pseudonymity’ since online anonymity is increasingly impossible to achieve.
Once the bastion for mudslingers, trolls and angry, self-righteous cyberlibertarians, Brian Stetler of the New York Times suggested that the internet is now where anonymity goes to die. Maybe that’s a good thing.
The freedom to publish in the absence of accountability may be the type of ugly hybrid responsible for all this as described by Jaron Lanier in Culture:
“Individuals best achieve optimal stupidity on those rare occasions when they are both given substantial powers and insulated from the results of their actions.”
A few more bits of thinking on the anonymous.
- Tim O’Reilly’s two cents on pseudonymity on O’Reilly Radar.
- Matt Ridley discussing online disinhibition effect in The Wall Street Journal.
- The leaky nature of online privacy in Slate.
- How the internet created an age of rage.
- Physician anonymity: No room for aliases on the Doximity Blog.
In a world of information distributed along channels of trust, expect shouting from the shadows to be increasingly unsustainable.