Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Facebook Electronic Frontier Foundation Privacy The Internet Your Rights Online

Facebook Exec: Online Anonymity Must Go Away 553

Posted by Soulskill
from the show-your-support-anonymously dept.
Chaonici writes "The EFF has a blog post about what appears to be Facebook's stance on anonymity on the Internet. Speaking last week at a social media conference hosted by Marie Claire magazine, Facebook's Marketing Director, Randi Zuckerburg, is quoted: 'I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.' This position appears to apply to the entire Internet, not just Facebook (which already requires that its users post real names instead of pseudonyms). The EFF goes on to point out how this would be a bad choice for civil liberties online."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Facebook Exec: Online Anonymity Must Go Away

Comments Filter:
  • Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:10AM (#36970608)
    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:14AM (#36970642) Journal

    'I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.'

    This quote makes it sound like this is a very recent realization and that this problem hasn't existed since the beginning of the internet. Furthermore, it totally overlooks one half of the double edged sword of anonymity online. You may retain your privacy through anonymity, you may be safer from stalkers and thieves by remaining anonymous and you can speak without fear of retaliation -- whether that be deserved (the only cases Randi Zuckerberg seems to be able to conjure up) or undeserved.

    I mean, we're posting on a site that seems to handle anonymity just fine. Is it impossible for Facebook to spend the effort to discover how they could accomplish the same thing?

    Furthermore what in the world is she saying "on the Internet" for? Here's an idea: you stick to Facebook and the rest of the sovereign internet will follow or not follow your lead.

    And yet further, I would argue that implementing a verification system is more complicated and more risky than simply dealing with spam and trolls in an intuitive way. Do you propose we each have some secret identification string that establishes our true identity on a given site? And when those are lifted wholesale by a foreign entity [slashdot.org] what then, Randi?

    Side rant: Holy nepotism [wikipedia.org], Batman! Hey, Mark, did you ever think that maybe Facebook wouldn't be so hated and being thrashed so much in Public Relations if the person in charge of it actually earned that position by merit? How do I know your sister didn't achieve this position by merit? If she was good enough to hold this high of a position at one of the most valuable internet companies, she would have known to issue a non-statement on anonymity as she would have researched this problem just a little bit more than relying on her psychology degree to say "Gee, people are jerks when they can say whatever they want--let's just stop that." She didn't offer a solution and all she did was piss a bunch of people off. GO TEAM ZUCKERBERG!

  • Ulterior motives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by atomicstrawberry (955148) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:15AM (#36970660)

    Company with vested interest in tracking people by their actual names online thinks everyone should use their real names online?

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwven (663186) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:19AM (#36970704)

    You're comparing apples to pineapples here. We're not talking about government, which was the context of Franklin's quote. We're talking about online accountability. Facebook isn't pushing some law that states you have to be public with your online profile.

    While I don't necessarily agree with Zuckerberg's his point, i do agree with his sentiment. People use anonymity on the internet to be complete pricks. It's easy to talk a pile of trash when you aren't accountable for your blathering. Doing away with anonymity adds at least SOME accountability to your online life.

    That said, anonymity is also required in many cases, internet or not, to preserve life, liberty, etc. This is why Zuckerberg can talk all day long, but the government should NEVER get involved in any decisions about this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:20AM (#36970720)

    Anonymity will be the standard, since the laws of humans are no match for the laws of mathematics.

    Lack of anonymity invites intimidation, surveillance, censorship and prejudice. This is what must go.

    (captcha: attacks)

    P.S. Reputation can be conveyed pseudonymously. If the holder of public key A is known for good behaviour, you may be justified in trusting them, even without any high authority (to whom you'd have doubtless no access anyway) knowing what color of underwear they prefer to buy, and how frequently they do it.

  • Randi Is Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:23AM (#36970746)
    "The Internet" is not Facebook, no matter how much it may feel that way for Facebook principals. If Facebook, or Google+, or whatever trendy social network fad of the year wants to require real names, fine. I can think of many cases where such a policy is desirable. The operator of this or that service should be free to adopt the policy that meets their needs, but extended that policy to the Internet as a whole is just absurd.
  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:23AM (#36970752) Homepage

    A friend of mine used to be pretty open about her online identity... until she got a box of sex toys mailed to her with no return address.

    The arguments for lack-of-privacy are fundamentally inconsistent. We are told that people "behave better" when there is a risk of consequences, but also that there are no harmful consequences. These cannot both be true. While most people don't need privacy most of the time, you rarely know in advance that you will later turn out to have needed privacy.

    People tend to make arguments like "well, don't do anything you'd be ashamed of", but this only works if you have a guarantee that the rest of the people in the world are all basically sane. They're not. Furthermore, lots of people don't get a choice; you don't get to say "hmm, lots of people object to transgendered people, guess I won't be one."

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:23AM (#36970762)

    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

    Now updated for the 21st century:

    Those who would give up their privacy for Zuckerburg deserve everything they get.

  • Listen up Facebook (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:23AM (#36970766)

    People like being able to say what they want, without fear of landing in jail; and so if you insist on policing what essentially amounts to nothing more than conversation in a bar -- then guess what, people can and will go else where.
    I don't have people standing in a bar monitoring the rubbish spilling from my mouth, even if it might offend some or be deemed anti-gov or w/e by others, so why is it acceptable to do it online? Wake the fuck up Facebook, no one is endorsing your oppressive 1984-style bullshit. Why would people WANT to use a service that could cause them a lot of problems.............???????

  • Facebook fail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:24AM (#36970768)

    "This position appears to apply to the entire Internet, not just Facebook (which already requires that its users post real names instead of pseudonyms)"

    Yes, and it's long proven how well it works on Facebook too. Just the other day I was searching for Anders Breivik's profile on there to have a nosey and had the pleasure of stumbling across around 50 groups praising the guy as a Saint, and a whole bunch more trolling Norwegians over it. So yes, obviously people behave so much better with their true identities that Facebook "enforce".

    No seriously, dickheads act like dickheads when you can't punch them in the face, anonymous or not.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:25AM (#36970780) Journal
    I think that the main problem, aside from good old fashioned scope/mission creep, is that the less 'normative' online anonymity becomes, the more anonymity tends to stand out. Unless you are damn good, a substantial portion of your actual anonymity, if you are trying to be anonymous, comes from the fact that the internet is a torrent of psuedo-anonymous and unverified noise. If it becomes the case that all the good little people who have nothing to hide move neatly in authenticated rows to keep them from being pricks, the people who need anonymity will stand out like sore thumbs, unless they have serious chops or serious resources.
  • by LMacG (118321) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:26AM (#36970804) Journal

    It's cute that she thinks everybody on FB uses a real name. I'll be sure to pass that along to my friend Charlie Unknown*, and many others.

    *Not the actual pseudonym, I wouldn't want somebody to get reported to the bureaucrats....

  • by Stellian (673475) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:27AM (#36970808)

    I mean, we're posting on a site that seems to handle anonymity just fine.

    But I'm not anonymous, I'm Stellian, well known slashdot lurker and kook. I have a nice karma and care about my reputation, so I try my best to behave. See, no childporn or viruses in this post.

    If I disclose my real identity complete with full name and postal address:
      - it will not improve the quality of my posts; facebook is a perfect example on non-anonymous people incapable, on average, to produce any useful content
      - it will not stop other anonymous people to do illegal things, in fact criminals will always try to remain anonymous when operating, just like in the real world
      - it will allow an anonymous stock owner of facebook/slashdot/etc. to make a few bucks more by farming my data

    No, anonymity is not going anywhere and I will refuse to use any service does not respect my privacy

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:27AM (#36970816)

    So, people tend to say whatever they want behind "closed doors", and you have a problem with that, Randi Zuckerburg?

    Fine, then you won't mind if I put a webcam in every room in your house, right? I mean after all, people tend to say AND do whatever they want behind "closed doors", and we can't possibly have any of that without the rest of the world being well aware of exactly who is doing what behind "closed doors", right?

    Keep it up, Farcebook. You won't be relevant enough for people to even give a shit if you keep pulling moves like this. There's a damn good reason anonymity existed well before privacy lawsuits, Farcebook or even the internet, and it's the same reason it will continue to exist well after you're gone.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:28AM (#36970828)

    They are not doing it for "Better behavior".... They are doing it to better sell your data. They can't sell your data if it is anonymous.

    Nathan

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:29AM (#36970838) Journal
    These days, people are willing to give up their freedoms for convenience, not just for safety. On the one hand, it's a positive reflection on society that most people are never in a position of having to give something up for safety. On the other hand, it's a fairly damning indictment of the individuals that they value their civilisation so little.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:37AM (#36970930) Homepage

    That's a HUGE no-shitter there. People hide behind corporate identities to hide from accountability for their actions. Just look at what Cisco did. They lied to the US Dept. of Justice to get them to do their bidding which was to contact the Canadian officials to have a man who was suing them arrested and detained so that he could not continue his case against them. If an individual with a name were responsible for this, there would be charges, an arrest, a trial and likely imprisonment. What will "Cisco" get? Pretty much a free pass on the whole matter.

    Corporate person-hood should go away and the individuals making the decisions should be exposed for doing what they do. And no longer should corporate "persons" enjoy rights of actual living people.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:41AM (#36970986)

    We disagree. You haven't read much Ben, have you? You should brush up on your Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and perhaps: Mussolini.

  • by lucidlyTwisted (2371896) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:41AM (#36970992)

    My name is Simon Wimpleblode, I am 34 years old, I live in Cape Town, I am an accountant.

    I could create just such a profile in Facebook (or G+ or...) and not be "anonymous" as far as they are concerned, but without the ability to verify primary ID, they have no way to prove whether anything I have claimed is true in any way. All that remains of any worth is the identity/persona that is Simon Wimpleblode, and that's the same whether I am using an obvious handle or not.

    Without some massive, world-wide scheme to link IP multiple-addresses back to primary, state-approved ID; there is no way to actually remove anonymity. All that handles allow you to to is segregate the on-line-self from the real-world-self and there could be many reason for wanting to do that. If the on-line-self has value (e.g. contributes to projects, respected blog, whatever) then it matters not if the consumers know the real ID or not, the content/product is what is of value and the trust built-up over time.

    If people are trolling ass-hats, let the community/admins deal with those accounts as required. If people are weird in the head and prone to stalking, threats etc then I rather doubt that a lack of anonymity will dissuade them.

    The only reason FB et al want anonymity gone is so that they can link the on-line-self to the real-world-self and thus sell more advertising. That's it. End of discussion.

  • by yahwotqa (817672) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:44AM (#36971010)

    I routinely mod up AC comments which add to the discussion. It looks like people here forget that moderation is not about karma and accounts, but more about particular posts and their contribution to the discussion.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak@@@eircom...net> on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:45AM (#36971036) Homepage Journal

    We're talking about online accountability.

    Really? I though we were talking about online anonymity. I don't see why the two concepts should be conflated.

  • by JackDW (904211) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:46AM (#36971042) Homepage

    I use a +3 modifier for ACs because AC posts are often (but not always) more interesting than named posts. I think this is because people speak more freely if they are able to do so without a permanent record of whatever they said which is forever attached to their name (or handle).

    The disadvantage of anonymity is group identity, when a mob forms, and people act like assholes because their identities are hidden. See the KKK, or any other group of masked anonymous persons, online or off.

    But group identity isn't always the result. Anonymity also promotes individualism, because an anonymous individual can feel free to go against the group identity. You would be lynched for standing in the middle of a large crowd and vehemently disagreeing with the crowd on some subject. But if you can be anonymous - well, you speak freely.

    On Slashdot, this form is most common. ACs are the ones who step out of line and post things that are completely at odds with the groupthink on some particular topic. Sometimes, this is just garbage. Other times, it is refreshing insight.

    And yes, when I see the latter, I mod it up.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:51AM (#36971086)

    True, that wasn't what Ben Franklin meant. But I think the point is, if we didn't know who made that statement, would it be any less insightful? And would the "better behavior" be worth the loss of an anonymous insightful comment?

    Zuckerberg is implying that what anonymous people say is worth less than the effect on behavior of being identifiable. I'm not convinced. Samuel Clemens was comfortable with a pseudonym for his writings. Courts have upheld the rights of people to distribute political pamphlets anonymously. Pseudonyms and anonymous comment have been part of free public discourse for centuries. Why should the internet suddenly change things and *require* identity be disclosed?

  • by CarsonChittom (2025388) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @08:51AM (#36971090) Homepage

    The arguments for lack-of-privacy are fundamentally inconsistent. We are told that people "behave better" when there is a risk of consequences, but also that there are no harmful consequences. These cannot both be true. While most people don't need privacy most of the time, you rarely know in advance that you will later turn out to have needed privacy.

    It's extremely important to distinguish between privacy and anonymity—they're related, but they're not the same. I'm for the former in all circumstances and against the latter in most circumstances.

  • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:03AM (#36971232) Homepage

    All true. The most important part of anonymity (or pseudonymity) on the internet though, is that it gives voice to those who'd otherwise be silenced.

    That includes a *lot* of people living in all sorts of opressive circumstances, ranging from intolerant conservative christian parents of a gay teenager, up to governments who say straight out that they'll kill anyone who believe in the wrong thing (say atheists in Iran)

    Giving those people a voice, has a *lot* of value to me.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:03AM (#36971236)

    Im not sure I (or Ben, for that matter) would qualify "being anonymous on the internet" as "Essential Liberty"

    Good thing the supreme court has ruled that the ability to speak anonymously is fundamental to freedom of speech, and represents an important protection against tyranny of the majority:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McIntyre_v._Ohio_Elections_Commission [wikipedia.org]

    The courts have ruled that this extends to online communication:

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doe_v._Cahill
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendrite_International,_Inc._v._Doe_No._3
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobilisa,_Inc._v._Doe

    Finally, I am pretty sure Dr. Franklin would agree that anonymous speech is important, given that he published "Abridgment of the Book of Common Prayer" anonymously.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:04AM (#36971250)

    I'm posting AC so what are you gonna do about it?

    Normally; Mod you down. Most of the people coming to slashdot wouldn't even notice your post. Today, your post is relevant and valuable and absolutely to the point. What damage did it do? None. Would it have even been noticed if I didn't choose to browse with your post visible. No.

    All FaceBook has to do to solve the anonymous user problem is have an option to ignore users suspected of not having valid names and have it turned on by default. They could even delete insulting accounts as well. The reason they choose a different option has nothing to do with the quality of the debate.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:11AM (#36971332)

    the government should NEVER get involved in any decisions about this.

    No, actually, government should always FORCE privacy requirements.

    Because regardless whether it actually caused the decision, visibly or invisibly, it will have access to data that exists, most often even legally and applicable in courts.

    And even without governments, the interest of the average citizen is neither that all sorts of acquaintances nor all sorts of companies have immediate access to information commonly regarded as private - say, location, photographs of you and other identifiying data (genetic, fingerprints,...), and about everything you did not explicitly choose to publish about yourrself: preferences, ideas, acquaintances, personal phone book, personal agenda...

    See, even in real life, not being able to know people's locations and identities and actions at all times has downsides with regards to law enforcement and such. Someone may damage your parked car and get away with it. They could throw blunt objects at you. Or make obscene comments.

    But these drawbacks just do not outweight the need for privacy. You do not want to be constantly guerilla marketed and socially pressured (atheist? must convert or expulse from society - also, buy atheist coke, please). You do not want all your acquiantances to know what you're doing at all times (wtf your school friend became a prostitute and you meet her still? wtf, you attended an european social democrat's speech in public for 5 minutes?!). And if you look good, you don't want to have everyone pass you up to hit on you constantly, either.

    Same thing online. It is just an extension of society as usual.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:17AM (#36971440)

    . People use anonymity on the internet to be complete pricks.

    Some of us call that living honestly... Freedom has its drawbacks, if you wanna blame something, blame the human condition and bad upbringing. Leave the internet alone,due to social responsibilities, some of us have no other outlets for our personalities. I mean... what would the world think if it was discovered that Steve Jobs faps to pictures of himself holdind an iphone (sorry steve). .... 'ang on, did i just imply that i'm also a prick?

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:30AM (#36971596) Journal
    That is all.
  • idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:39AM (#36971712) Homepage Journal

    oh gosh what a pile of bullshit.

    Apparently, all these youngsters have no idea what a real online community looks like. Back in the BBS days, everyone had a "handle". Since we rarely changed them, it was closer to pseudonymity than anonymity, but it served a purpose.

    That's what these piles of garbage who've gotten filthy rich over breaking other people's privacy and then telling the world that's the new black don't get: Purpose of seperation.

    I have a couple hobbies where I change identity. In LARP or online gaming, I'm known under a different name than my family knows me as. And while I go as "Tom" in various social circles, they often do not overlap. The same three characters do not express the same identity.

    I would, in fact, prefer to have several linked accounts on Facebook, Google+, etc. - because what I post, write or comment as the "Tom" of my own online games isn't all that interesting to my real-world friends. And vice-versa, the players of my games probably don't care what I'm doing this evening. Most of them don't even understand the postings I make in my native language.
    This is not even about hiding anything. It's about being better than blarring everything about you on broadcast, whether or not anyone cares.

    Maybe you have to be a celebrity like Mark to lose touch with this basic reality: That your life is seperated into various roles you play. Heck, that's sociology 101. Few things about our social lives are as fundamental as that. So how can a social network ignore basic facts about what it means to be social?

    There's also some information theory 101: Too much information becomes indistinguishable from noise. If our connection is because we share some online hobby, then I usually don't care about your personal life because it has no impact on me. I don't care where you go this evening because I couldn't join you there anyways, you're hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from me.
    And even if you're my friend, I don't give a flying fuck about your latest accomplishment in FarmVille!

    Basically, what social networks lack to be actually social instead of just being the most simple and primitive kind of network imaginable is the ability to classify "friends". Google+ has a good start with its circles, but that's one baby step up from Facebooks unbelievably stupid binary friendship concept.

    Twenty years from now, we'll look at Facebook the way we look at hand-copied bibles today, shaking our heads in disbelief that people went to all that effort for so little gain.

    And the fact that you simply aren't the same person to different people is one of the things that will change in those social networks, because it's a fact of human nature and human nature doesn't adapt to toys, it forces the toys to adapt or changes them as soon as a better one comes around.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:44AM (#36971778)

    If you believe that alphatel compared apples to apples then you demonstrate you don't have a grasp on what you are talking about, which you demonstrate quite well in the rest of your post. If you did grasp the subject, you would understand that anonymity means just that: lack of accountability regarding one's statements. To put it more precisely, and to underline what you failed to understand, anonymity means that you (or anyone) can say anything without having to worry that someone who dislikes what you (or anyone) just said can punish you from saying precisely that. And that is a direct attack on the core of any society which likes to portray itself as being free.

    As an example, you complained that some people on the internet are "complete pricks" and that they only say that because they "aren't accountable for their blathering". The thing is, who are you to judge who is a "prick" and what amounts to "blathering"? Are you aware that you, by making this sort of comment, can be seen by someone as being a "prick" who is "blathering" on the internet? And what if those who see you as a "prick" who "blathers" on the internet decide that you should be made accountable for your "blathering"? And what if that "blathering" is a swift ass kicking to teach you some manners? That is very possible if you aren't anonymous.

    It has become very clear that those who defend the elimination of any anonymity are either completely oblivious to the consequences of what they are advocating or itching to oppress those who happen to say things that they don't personally approve. Advocating the elimination of anonymity represents a threat to everyone, and those who defend that they want you to lose your anonymity are in fact defending that "I want to know where you and your loved ones live, because if you say something I dislike you will hear from me". And this is terribly frightening, and has absolutely no place in a free society.

    So, please think things through. It is a lot better to have some internet tough guy acting like a prick onilne then having a deranged psycho knocking on your door because he frowned upon your statement on (politics|religion). And this is exactly what you are defending with your poorly thought-through ideas.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:47AM (#36971810)

    People use anonymity on the internet to be complete pricks.

    Yes, they do. So what?

    It's easy to talk a pile of trash when you aren't accountable for your blathering. Doing away with anonymity adds at least SOME accountability to your online life.

    It would indeed add accountability to your online life, which would be a bug, not a feature.

    Random anonymous people on the net can't harm you. They can say things that you find offensive, but that's your problem not theirs. The fact that people can be complete assholes without any form of accountability is the single greatest feature of the internet. In addition to all the trolls that you hate so much, there's also a lot of unadulterated truth. I'm more than willing to put up with and ignore the trolls in order to have such a free forum.

    That said, anonymity is also required in many cases, internet or not, to preserve life, liberty, etc. This is why Zuckerberg can talk all day long, but the government should NEVER get involved in any decisions about this.

    I agree with that. However, if it's not illegal, someone will market to the people that want anonymity, so either the government gets involved, or we don't get rid of anonymity on the net.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcelrath (8027) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @09:49AM (#36971834) Homepage

    One man's online asshat is another man's crusader. Question is...do the people who think you're an asshat have guns/thugs/policemen/jails? Doesn't matter if the government requires your identity or a private organization...only if those who think you're an asshat have access to your Facebook profile.

    Asshattery is a price we pay for freedom. It's not pretty but it's one I'm willing to accept. Psychologists have long shown the tendency of people to self-censor when their identity is known or they could be held accountable for their actions (hey it's only logical). When important things need to be said, they should be said, anonymously if necessary, rather than everyone self-censoring until the situation blows up in our faces. Look at Turkmenistan or North Korea or Thailand for examples of self-censorship regarding their glorious leaders...

    Not only will the revolution not be televised, it also won't be on Facebook.

    For a more 1st world example, imagine posting something critical of a certain candidate or party in the US. Imagine then that party data-mining online posts, classifying people into "favorable" or "unfavorable" to their side using some basic NLP. If they have your name, then they correlate that with voter rolls (which parties have access to), so now they know where you live. Then they use that information to gerrymander your district so that your vote is marginalized, and thus, engineer the election result. I'd be surprised if this isn't happening right now in the US.

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @10:45AM (#36972650)

    Finally someone that makes a solid point.

    The next part of the process is to recognize that Facebook has no stake in controlling behavior, thus making discussions about it a dead horse. From their perspective anyway. If you speak about anonymity as it relates to behavior it is easier to motivate others to allow control of one through the other, providing the side benefit of making your already collected mega piles of data all that much more valuable.

    Their motivation is greed of money.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @12:10PM (#36973808) Homepage Journal

    Don't be fooled by this call for accountability. Ethical posturing from the slimebags at Facebook is a laughable farce.

    This is all about the Facebook business model, which is founded on SELLING YOU OUT. The radical expansion of their revenues will come as they encourage efforts to abolish not merely anonymity - but privacy itself.

    It's not anonymity that needs to disappear from the Internet, but Facebook, which in itself presents a far greater evil and threat to individual rights and well being than does the entire aggregation of anonymous expressions...

  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reverand Dave (1959652) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @12:30PM (#36974040)
    I think really in the context of FB in general, they might say they want accountability, but in actual practice they want a name and an address they can use to market and sell garbage to. The fuckwits at FB don't really give one wet fart whether you are an online prince charming or an online asshat. They just want something or someone they can sell. Don't allow them to obfuscate the issue with talk of manners and accountability because they are more concerned with putting a dollar sign to a name than anything else.
  • Re:Thus spoke Ben (Score:5, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @12:34PM (#36974074) Journal

    Using your real identity or having a pseudonym that can easily be linked to your real identity makes people behave in a more cooperative and constructive way because they could be held accountable for their words.

    Held accountable to whom?

    In case the answer isn't obvious, the answer for public discourse is "To everyone and anyone who is now or may in the future have power over you." Which means that if you want to safely communicate using your real identity, you have to either be so powerful that few will ever be able to hold you to answer, or restrict your discourse to the most bland of subjects.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

Working...