No, Getting Rid Of Anonymity Will Not Fix Social Media; It Will Cause More Problems

from the not-this dept

There's an idea that pops up every so often among people who are upset about misinformation online but don't actually understand the realities of online communities and the dynamics of how it all works: it's the idea that "anonymity" is the root cause of many of the internet's problems. We've spent years debunking this, though it's been nearly a decade since there was a previous focus on this issue -- and it's now coming back.

Unfortunately, part of the reason it's coming back is because a friend of Techdirt, Andy Kessler (who we've even published on Techdirt), wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal calling for the end of anonymity online. I will note, that a large part of the article is correct: the part that accurately notes that Section 230 is not the problem and reforming or repealing it will do a lot more harm than good. That is exactly right.

But then Andy goes off the rails and decides that getting rid of anonymity is the real solution.

He's wrong, and we'll get into why in a moment. But, tragically, his piece has picked up some supporters in high places. Senator Ron Johnson, one of the key enablers of spreading disinformation in Congress (under his own name, of course), tweeted a link to the article, saying that perhaps we should end anonymity online:

That says:

I'm concerned that Congress’s involvement in Section 230 reform may lead to more harm than good.

One solution may be to end user anonymity on social media platforms. Social media companies need to know who their customers are so bad actors can be held accountable.

The next day, Senator John Kennedy, another famed Senatorial spreader of disinformation under his own name, announced that he was going to introduce legislation to ban anonymity online. Specifically, he said social media companies would have to verify the legal identities of every user, and said that this would "cause a lot of people" to "think about their words."

There are three big problems with this idea:

  1. It's unconstitutional.
  2. It doesn't work.
  3. It creates real harms & puts marginalized and vulnerable people at risk.
Beyond those three things, it's a lovely idea. Did I say lovely? I meant short-sighted and half-baked.

Let's go through it bit by bit.

It's unconstitutional.

Basically, throughout the 20th century, there were a series of cases that reached the Supreme Court on the question of anonymity and whether or not the government could force the revealing of names. The most notable was McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission in 1995, where the Supreme Court was pretty explicit:

Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.... It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation--and their ideas from suppression--at the hand of an intolerant society. The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. But political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.

Some people might argue that "this is different" thanks to social media, but the details of the McIntyre case suggest that is very much in line with what is happening today. Some may argue that since we're often talking about speech trying to influence an election, it is different. Or what about to stop fraud? Or defamation? Literally all of that is covered in the McIntyre ruling:

The state interest in preventing fraud and libel stands on a different footing. We agree with Ohio's submission that this interest carries special weight during election campaigns when false statements, if credited, may have serious adverse consequences for the public at large. Ohio does not, however, rely solely on §3599.09(A) to protect that interest. Its Election Code includes detailed and specific prohibitions against making or disseminating false statements during political campaigns. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§3599.09.1(B), 3599.09.2(B) (1988). These regulations apply both to candidate elections and to issue driven ballot measures.... Thus, Ohio's prohibition of anonymous leaflets plainly is not its principal weapon against fraud.... Rather, it serves as an aid to enforcement of the specific prohibitions and as a deterrent to the making of false statements by unscrupulous prevaricators. Although these ancillary benefits are assuredly legitimate, we are not persuaded that they justify §3599.09(A)'s extremely broad prohibition.

As this case demonstrates, the prohibition encompasses documents that are not even arguably false or misleading. It applies not only to the activities of candidates and their organized supporters, but also to individuals acting independently and using only their own modest resources. It applies not only to elections of public officers, but also to ballot issues that present neither a substantial risk of libel nor any potential appearance of corrupt advantage. It applies not only to leaflets distributed on the eve of an election, when the opportunity for reply is limited, but also to those distributed months in advance. It applies no matter what the character or strength of the author's interest in anonymity. Moreover, as this case also demonstrates, the absence of the author's name on a document does not necessarily protect either that person or a distributor of a forbidden document from being held responsible for compliance with the election code. Nor has the State explained why it can more easily enforce the direct bans on disseminating false documents against anonymous authors and distributors than against wrongdoers who might use false names and addresses in an attempt to avoid detection. We recognize that a State's enforcement interest might justify a more limited identification requirement, but Ohio has shown scant cause for inhibiting the leafletting at issue here.

Basically all of that would apply to social media as well.

Kessler's WSJ piece suggests that this would be no different than Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements in the financial industry, but that is quite different. That is an explicit rule developed for determining fraud. It is easily distinguishable from what is being demanded here on two key points. First, social media involves tons of 1st Amendment protected speech, so any law attacking anonymity there would require strict scrutiny to make sure that it was narrowly targeted and the only effective way to meet a specific goal (which it is not). Separately, the goal of having a KYC setup for social media is not to stop fraud. As Kennedy himself said (revealing its unconstitutional purpose), it would be to make people "think about their words."

It doesn't work.

Proof? Facebook already requires real names.

I really shouldn't need much more than that, but just to humor you: back in 2016 we wrote about a huge study involving half a million comments online and found that trolls tended to be even worse when using their real names.

Results show that in the context of online firestorms, non-anonymous individuals are more aggressive compared to anonymous individuals. This effect is reinforced if selective incentives are present and if aggressors are intrinsically motivated.

This is not to say all people using their real names are overly aggressive. Or that all anonymous users are lovely. But the idea that anonymity is the problem is just... not supported by the facts.

And, just to point out something important: the storming of the Capitol was pushed for by a ton of people using their real names. They didn't do it thinking they were anonymous.

It creates real harms & puts marginalized and vulnerable people at risk.

Back in 2011 we had a post talking about the damage that can be done by requiring people to identify themselves on social media. It included a list from another site of reasons people gave for wanting to use pseudonyms, and you'll realize there are some really good ones. The original link is now gone, but I'll repeat them here:

  • I am a high school teacher, privacy is of the utmost importance.
  • I publish under my nom de plume, it's printed on my business cards, and all of the thousands of people I know through my social networks know me by my online name.
  • I have used this name/account in a work context, my entire family know this name and my friends know this name. It enables me to participate online without being subject to harassment that at one point in time lead to my employer having to change their number so that calls could get through.
  • I do not feel safe using my real name online as I have had people track me down from my online presence and had coworkers invade my private life.
  • I've been stalked. I'm a rape survivor.
  • I work for a private club. I have to carry a card around which states I will not share any element of the club with any sort of media. So, If I want to talk about work (and I do) on the net, I have to use an alias.
  • I've been using this name for over 10 years in the "hacking" community. There are a nontrivial amount of people who know me *only* by that name.
  • As a former victim of stalking that impacted my family I've used [my nickname] online for about 7 years.
  • Under [this name] I am active in a number of areas of sexual difference for which it would not be wise for me to use my flesh legal name.
  • My actual real name is utterly non-identifying, as 1) it is the name of a character in a movie, and that overwhelms google search results 2) it's not unique at ALL.
  • [this name] is a pseudonym I use to protect myself. My web site can be rather controversial and it has been used against me once.
  • I started using [this name] to have at least a little layer of anonymity between me and people who act inappropriately/criminally. I think the "real names" policy hurts women in particular.
  • I use the pseudonym to maintain my online anonymity because I am polyamorous and have no desire for professional acquaintances to discover this.
  • I enjoy being part of a global and open conversation, but I don't wish for my opinions to offend conservative and religious people I know or am related to. Also I don't want my husband's Govt career impacted by his opinionated wife, or for his staff to feel in any way uncomfortable because of my views.
  • I have privacy concerns for being stalked in the past. I'm not going to change my name for [social media]. The price I might pay isn't worth it.
  • We get death threats at the blog, so while I'm not all that concerned with, you know, sane people finding me. I just don't overly share information and use a pen name.
  • This identity was used to protect my real identity as I am gay and my family live in a small village where if it were openly known that their son was gay they would have problems.
  • I go by pseudonym for safety reasons. Being female, I am wary of internet harassment.
Such a list can go on and on. As Danah Boyd has written, requiring people give their real names is itself an abuse of power. And, just to back that up, note that the people now calling for it are the powerful.

The people who most heavily rely on pseudonyms in online spaces are those who are most marginalized by systems of power. “Real names” policies aren’t empowering; they’re an authoritarian assertion of power over vulnerable people.

Boyd notes that in collecting data on teen use of social media, she found that people of color were significantly more likely to use pseudonyms, while white teens were more likely to use their real names.

And, of course, none of this discusses what a total pain this would be for most sites. We've always allowed people to comment anonymously on Techdirt. If we were required to verify every commenter, we'd most likely shut down the comments -- which remain such a key part of the site here. It's also where we learn so much, often from anonymous or pseudonymous commenters. I have no idea the identity of nearly all of our best commenters, and I don't want or need to know.

So, please, can we dump this silly idea? Anonymity doesn't solve the problems you think it would, and it would put people at risk.

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Filed Under: anonymity, john kennedy, ron johnson, social media, trolling


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 9:45am

    Where is anonymity a problem anyway?

    Do any major social media platforms allow anonymity? Facebook requires a real name, and is reportedly really good at figuring out a person's real name even if they provide a fake one. Twitter requires a (mobile?) phone number. They allow pseudonymous, not anonymous, accounts, but the service "knows their customers". I'm not sure about other sites, but a lot would have a person's real IP addresses because they ban anonymity services.

    Techdirt is one of very few sites allowing anonymous posting, but isn't really a "social media platform". And it'll probably be hours before anyone sees this message, because every anonymous message I've posted in the last few months has been held for moderation (it used to be more like 30%).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 12:39am

      Re: Where is anonymity a problem anyway?

      "Facebook requires a real name, and is reportedly really good at figuring out a person's real name even if they provide a fake one."

      Lol, no they're really not. I know numerous people who don't use their real name, be they pseudonyms, nicknames or whatever. I'm also friends with accounts for pets. I personally have a couple of "fake" accounts that I used for testing the development of FB games from when I used to work for such a company. I also know a couple of people who have had multiple accounts over the years after they keep getting banned.

      Now, it's possible that they've tightened up their procedures in recent years, but my experience is that unless you do something the requires them to investigate you, you're free to use the service with a pseudonym.

      I'm not as familiar with Twitter, but I have no doubt there's ways around that for someone determined to be anonymous. For example, even if they do require a phone number, they can't confirm that the person who signs up is the owner of the phone (they might use someone else's, with or without their permission), and they certainly can't confirm the identity of the person currently using the phone number without further verification, even if they went through SMS confirmation at sign up.

      "Techdirt is one of very few sites allowing anonymous posting"

      It's really, really not.

      "every anonymous message I've posted in the last few months has been held for moderation (it used to be more like 30%)"

      So, was this one held? If so, have you been posting a lot recently, maybe messages that have been flagged?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 9:48am

    It doesn't work.
    Proof? Facebook already requires real names.

    Their ToS requires real names but there is no verification step. I've created several accounts on FB using made-up names.

    If not for the internet's horrible track record in keeping data private and law enforcement's equally horrible record I would be in favor of a kind of data escrow system or one that simply allows you to post anonymously but the site itself knows who you are. Your real name just isn't exposed to the public. But the internet is a horrible place and law enforcement are horrible people so screw that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 9:53am

    Surprised I didn't see the reason that jumps to mind for me.. Social Engineering attacks and identity theft.. If your real name is attached with all your comments that's now metadata attached together with your identity, just makes it easier for a malicious actor to pretend they are you

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:28am

      Re:

      With just the metadata that's out there already, I use nonsensical answers to challenge questions to help prevent that.
      Q: What was the name of your first pet?
      A: Shutup!Nextplz.

      And keep such in a password manager that isn't in the cloud.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 4:40pm

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, i have always done this with security questions, etc.

        The cool thing was a year or two ago, my bank actually advised this in a message on their app. Honestly, i was a bit blown away.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:53pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The cool thing was a year or two ago, my bank actually advised this in a message on their app. Honestly, i was a bit blown away.

          So their solution to the security questions being a problem, was to double down and claim that to reset your password you needed to remember 1 to 3 more of them that you use much less often?

          I don't know if that netop is a genius or just a BOFH.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    radix (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 9:54am

    This is like saying a small number of guilty people end up winning at trial, so we need to outlaw lawyers for the good of everybody.

    If you ignore the other side of the equation where most people benefit from a particular law or policy, you end up hurting far more people than are helped.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:10am

    "Hold accountable"

    That is a rather Orwellian euphemism for "whatever arbitrart coercieve punishment measures we come up with post facto is justified by definition". It is sadly rare to see it said even in the context of actual laws broken - and rare as hen's teeth to include any consideration of civil rights.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:19am

      Re: "Hold accountable"

      Then why spend your time making up dumb definitions out of thin air like that?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        sumgai (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 2:35pm

        Re: Re: "Hold accountable"

        The definition/euphemism was AC's setup piece for the punchline: namely his/her observation that evil doers often don't receive the punishment they deserve, at least in so much as prescribed by law. Seemed clear to me.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 4:44pm

        Re: Re: "Hold accountable"

        I thought it was pretty clear they were saying that this is what accountability means for those who wish to apply it in coercive and unfair propositions like the above.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:11am

    Donald Trump was not anonymous on social media and he used it to bring the western world to it's knees. The republicans that aided and abetted him are also, again, not anonymous on social media. Facebook is run by people who want to destroy online anonymity for their own personal gain, they collect vast amount of data, building up profiles on people who don't even use their services and allow their platform to be used as a means to administer propaganda with surgical precision... I'd say that sort of thing has more to do with the current hellworld we live in than someone being able to call themselves Johnny Hotpants online.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 2:43pm

      Re:

      ... and he used it to bring the western world to it's knees.

      I would contend that #45 did his damndest to incite others to go out and put Democracy's dick in the dirt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TKnarr (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:28am

    We discovered on BBS networks way back in the '90s that there were two kinds of non-anonymity: verified identity and continuity of identity. Verified identity connected your real-life identity with your online identity, requiring providing valid ID to create an account and associating your real name with your account (tying your account to your real-life identity). It worked, but it was overkill. The other, continuity of identity, turned out to do everything needed and several useful things verified identity didn't do. It was basically the assurance that anything posted under a given name came from the same actual person. You didn't know who that person was, but you could trust that the same name was always the same person. There was also assurance that it wasn't trivial for one person to acquire a different online name. Not hard, mind you, but not something someone would do unless they truly intended to do it. Unlike verified identity, it allowed people's words and record to speak for themselves. Since all you knew about the person was what they said, things like what position they held, what education they had, what their economic status was, all became less important than what they were actually saying. That kept the focus on what was being said since people couldn't hide behind titles and degrees and claim authority based on who they were, they had to back it up (which the truly knowledgeable could do easily and the BS-ers couldn't). The whole system worked fairly well for... well, a couple of decades at least, I first encountered it on CompuServe and GEnie, and it was still going strong into the early 2000's.

    Maybe what we need is something like what CompuServe had, where your account identifier was just a large number that, while not hard to get, was non-trivial to get several of since you had to provide payment information for each one and the account system would balk at creating multiple accounts with the same payment information attached through the regular individual-user interface. You could set any name you wanted on your account, you could change your name any time you wanted, but everyone could see that it was always the same account identifier behind it. At the same time, that account identifier didn't reveal anything about your actual identity unless you deliberately linked the two by attributing the identifier to your name elsewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:52am

      Re:

      If you have to provide payment information, you have identified yourself, (unless you can use bitcoin or other anonymous payment method). For the purposes of those in power, that is good enough, they can get to you via the website and banking records.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 2:41pm

        Re: Re:

        unless you can use bitcoin or other anonymous payment method

        Bitcoin's only anonymous if you mined it yourself. The mining rewards come as about $200,000 at a time, so it's quite unlikely an individual will get one. It might still be possible to mine and collect rewards anonymously as part of a pool, if steps are taken to hide one's IP address. I expect "know your client" requirements will eventually show up there, though they may be difficult to enforce.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 4:44pm

        Re: Re:

        The giant difference being that only authorities could obtain that information with a court order.

        Not every other user had access to your real world identity simply because they disliked something you said & wanted to harass you.

        The government doesn't really give a shit about this, they are doing that fun distraction thing where the magician keeps our focus over HERE while their other hand is stealing our watch.

        Last I looked my meanest comment didn't have a bodycount of 500K... but we're spending more energy on mean comments...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 4:50pm

        Re: Re:

        While i notice the qualifier "something like" probably addresses your concerns - particularly in light that lots of things don't require payment, and no one is going for send-your-driver-license-to-facebook, i think that it doesn't address any of the non-problems with anonymity other than being spoofed, which is not a concern of the hand-wringers mentioned in the OP.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 11:15pm

        Re: Re:

        He's probably referring to the idea of a close-knit community. Where everyone "knows" everyone else. Where newcomers find it hard to gain traction with others (or be able to post more than 1K of text) without significant commitment, and where the expectation of the community is conform or GTFO.

        In the old days it was easier to do this because of the slow rate that new users were introduced into the communities, and the internet as a whole. In modern times, it's far more difficult to due the fact that just about anyone can create an infinite number of email addresses. Online passports / driver's licenses / identities, whatever you want to call them, email addresses are how we ID, track, and punish people online for better or worse.

        There's really not a solution for this problem. Any solution that would work better would either require a lot more investment by site operators to verify a user, or would effectively eliminate online anonymity. The internet just isn't designed for anonymous verification in a way that is easy for manager types to just forget about and still have a functioning community. Nor should it be. Any community has it's norms. Any community that wants their norms to be dominant has to have the will to enforce them regardless of difficulty. That's true of real life as well. The biggest thing wrong with the Eternal September, wasn't the sudden rush of new users, it was the fact that the existing communities had the expectation of easy community management in the first place.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 7:00pm

      Re: GEnie and CompuServe, had security flaws

      Back in the day:
      Both GEnie and Comuserve had security flaws
      that let anyone who knew how to exploit said flaws
      see the full details on anyone who used their systems.
      GEnie flaw was very trivial to exploit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christenson, 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:33am

    THAT Anonymous Coward

    Let's hear it for "THAT Anonymous Coward"!

    Definitely one of Techdirt's better commenters. And makes the point about continuity of identity normally being sufficient.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jojo (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:53am

    Christ,I am so sick of these digital, constitutional illiterates

    Getting rid of anonymity might not be the dumbest jabs on section 230 I’ve heard, but it’s up there with every bill made by Josh Hawley. This isn’t just a nonsensical nonissue, this is “old man yelling at cloud” levels of dumb.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 10:55am

    And of course the people demanding an end to anonymity are like 70+ years old with minimal computer knowledge or understanding of why anonymity is so crucial to the function of the internet, ugh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 11:10am

    Make up your bloody minds

    Congress: Companies are scooping up too much personal data, they need to be reigned in!

    Also Congress: Users should be required to provide their real names and verify that with personal information!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:48pm

      Re: Make up your bloody minds

      I thought it was obvious - they are deliberately being unpleasable to always have a scapegoat and a villain to rail against. There are few things I loathe more than deliberately unpleasable people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 11:24am

    I assume it is Internet Karen that requires Real ID, your name and where you work so that Internet Karen can threaten your career and financial future with all sorts of silliness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 11:38am

    The lawyer-hacker mafia that Masnick pretends doesn't exist would be put out of business by this law.

    We even have a law 47 USC 223(h) that makes anonymous harassment a felony. Maybe a criminal libel statute would be a good balance.

    Another way would be to put the burden on a site to prove that it did not author a post and if it can't identify the poster we should sue, then it has to remove the post (a type of default). Only people harmed are bad actors.

    Without the above someone can use an anonymous remailer from a burner IP/cell, defame someone, be impossible to find, and everyone who repeats the defamation is immune under 230. The lawyer-hacker mafia needs this weapon otherwise who is going to plant all those articles about that celebrity who got threatened by a lawyer who acted like it would be easier than ordering a pizza.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 12:05pm

      Re:

      We even have a law 47 USC 223(h)…

      That subsection (h) that you're citing happens to be captioned “Definitions”. Further, its content makes clear that it's meant to be read in conjunction with § 230.

      47 USC § 223(h) Definitions

      For purposes of this section—
      (1) The use of the term “telecommunications device” in this section—
            (A) …
            (B) does not include an interactive computer service; …
            (C) …
      (2) The term “interactive computer service” has the meaning provided in section 230(f)(2) of this title.
      (3) …

      "Telecommunications device” there does not include an interactive computer service. According to the definitions of 47 USC 223(h).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 12:23pm

      Re:

      " someone can use an anonymous remailer from a burner IP/cell, defame someone, be impossible to find, and everyone who repeats the defamation is immune under 230."

      What you describe sounds like something that would come out of project veritas. Is project veritas this lawyer-hacker mafia to which you refer?

      "celebrity who got threatened by a lawyer who acted like it would be easier than ordering a pizza."

      Sounds more like a new fall sitcom than a real article about real news, but wth, I do not read everything ... what is this story about? Should be worth a few laughs anyway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 1:53pm

      Re:

      "The lawyer-hacker mafia..."

      Please please please entertain us us with your explanation of this amazing sounding group. I need a good laugh today.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 4:52pm

      Re:

      Ah, Jhon Smith - as wilfully ignorant, misogynistic and shortsighted as ever. If not for anonymity your claims of a press release and police investigation would have been long since laughed out of existence.

      Speaking of which, how's your Shiva Ayyadurai fund coming along?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Strawb (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 12:28pm

    I appreciate Kessler and the senators reminding me how much of a clusterfuck Blizzard's Real ID debacle was.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 12:32pm

    Time to say it.

    THOSE PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS.
    Its as if they live in a Bubble, and have never seen nor heard, or experienced Anything in life. and how things work out here.

    Anyone think its TIME to cut a few wages?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Blake C. Stacey (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 12:43pm

    Very Serious People: "Everyone would behave if we had to use our real names online!"

    Marjorie Taylor Greene: (exists)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Professor Ronny, 1 Feb 2021 @ 1:05pm

    Ohio Election Code

    Its Election Code includes detailed and specific prohibitions against making or disseminating false statements during political campaigns. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§3599.09.1(B), 3599.09.2(B) (1988).

    So basically, every single politician in Ohio is a criminal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 4:55pm

      Re: Ohio Election Code

      Hey, ho, way to go Ohio.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 10 Feb 2021 @ 4:16pm

      Re: Ohio Election Code

      Yeah, our legislators are idiots.

      That said, if the prohibition was limited to the defamation standards and the punishment was limited to disqualification from office or something, there might have been something to it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 1:33pm

    Wrong Point of view

    Making someone responsible for their on line titrates is like making someone accountable for the contents of their poop.

    The problem isn't with the poop, the problem is with those who ingest the poop thinking it's marshmallows with hot chocolate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2021 @ 2:12pm

    How likely is the bill to pass? Is it likely to get Democratic support?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:21pm

    Hi! I'm a shitty poster child!

    I admit lately I've not been as prolific as I have been in the past posting here for 'reasons' I don't want to get into. Its not because I end up in moderation a lot but its personal that I don't chose to share. I never managed to get all of my posts here under the TAC name, it took me a while to develop the idea of redeeming an insult & making it my identity online. If someone went looking you could find the posts, I have a very specific 'tone' & turned up under specific topics. I grew up as a very closeted terrified gay kid. I expended much effort on keeping my real world id separate from my online id to protect myself. Without this safe shell to operate from inside of I still might be worried about people knowing I am teh gay. (Y'all can tell I'm feeling much better now) When I first started exploring fetish & kink *shocking I know* I dipped my toe in wearing another shell because well people are judgemental assholes. :) A TAC truism comes to mind. Humans LOVE to label things. (Yes still doing that I'm immortal & not human thing cause I can.. have you seen the people you elected?) The problem is those labels end up stuff with so much crap they are really really shitty & useless. Anonymity is the problem!! Well thats if you include some meddling kids from the internet who helped crash a giant copyright trolling operation in the same group who tried to get the new Mt. Dew flavors to involve hitler and gushing grannies in an online poll. I mean the lawyers were willing to tell EVERYONE how horrible the mean anonymous people online were... *checks* I still am not under indictment for doing bad things. Perhaps their version on anonymous online people being mean only involved trying to use the stupid label to make people think we were something we never actually were? I make snarky comments, I post inappropriate meme's and I'm pretty sure Twitter is better off for it. If you don't like it, mute me or block me... I ain't gonna cry. The problem is people who think they have the absolute right to demand that I be silenced b/c my jokes about finding a baker to make me my gay cake upsets them mocking their deeply held beliefs that I am lesser than them. :) Nearly every online platform has technology to press a button and that unknown asshole who offended you can't darken your doorstep again (or until they make another account), but this can not be allowed to stand!!!! They offended someone & must be punished! Something something stop being an asshole & maybe people will stop calling you an asshole?? Much like the 3 trillion underaged hookers who are shipped to the Superb Owl every year, perhaps the truth about bad anonymity is no where near as bad as people pretend its just a pointless label that people shove more shit into that makes them unhappy. Much like Yelp reviews... Humans RARELY post reviews if they are actually happy with something, so when you look you see 100x more bad reviews & so then that must be a bad place... because you forget you've never posted reviews when you were pleased with the service & assume others do it... There is a system that lets you sue the bad man who said the mean things online. The problem is people just want to get paid by the platform who has lots of money instead of random basement dweller who can only offer some bottle caps & half a hot pocket as the settlement payment. People think THEY are owed a duty by the platforms to never be upset or offended while ignoring that they upset & offend people. Amazingly I am much more than TAC & I maintain other identities some of which have never made a comment about copyright *GASP*. But these aren't just nodding socks to post in support of TAC, they are other parts of me that I don't want touched by TAC. Not all anonymous people online are the same thing, stop treating us all the same... or I'll send you dick pics. :D

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Feb 2021 @ 5:45pm

      Re: Hi! I'm a shitty poster child!

      oh shit... wall of text not intended.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 3:31am

      Re: Hi! I'm a shitty poster child!

      I just want to hug you because of all this. How about a virtual, COVID-proof hug?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 11:55am

        Re: Re: Hi! I'm a shitty poster child!

        I can not be held responsible if I grab yer ass ;)

        (oh come on we know this is very on brand)

        :D

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 12:08pm

      Re: Hi! I'm a shitty poster child!

      I admit lately I've not been as prolific as I have been in the past posting here for 'reasons' I don't want to get into. Its not because I end up in moderation a lot but its personal that I don't chose to share.
      I never managed to get all of my posts here under the TAC name, it took me a while to develop the idea of redeeming an insult & making it my identity online. If someone went looking you could find the posts, I have a very specific 'tone' & turned up under specific topics.
      I grew up as a very closeted terrified gay kid. I expended much effort on keeping my real world id separate from my online id to protect myself.
      Without this safe shell to operate from inside of I still might be worried about people knowing I am teh gay. (Y'all can tell I'm feeling much better now) When I first started exploring fetish & kink shocking I know I dipped my toe in wearing another shell because well people are judgemental assholes. :)

      A TAC truism comes to mind. Humans LOVE to label things.
      (Yes still doing that I'm immortal & not human thing cause I can.. have you seen the people you elected?)
      The problem is those labels end up stuff with so much crap they are really really shitty & useless.
      Anonymity is the problem!!
      Well thats if you include some meddling kids from the internet who helped crash a giant copyright trolling operation in the same group who tried to get the new Mt. Dew flavors to involve hitler and gushing grannies in an online poll.
      I mean the lawyers were willing to tell EVERYONE how horrible the mean anonymous people online were... checks I still am not under indictment for doing bad things.
      Perhaps their version on anonymous online people being mean only involved trying to use the stupid label to make people think we were something we never actually were?
      I make snarky comments, I post inappropriate meme's and I'm pretty sure Twitter is better off for it. If you don't like it, mute me or block me... I ain't gonna cry.
      The problem is people who think they have the absolute right to demand that I be silenced b/c my jokes about finding a baker to make me my gay cake upsets them mocking their deeply held beliefs that I am lesser than them. :)

      Nearly every online platform has technology to press a button and that unknown asshole who offended you can't darken your doorstep again (or until they make another account), but this can not be allowed to stand!!!!
      They offended someone & must be punished!
      Something something stop being an asshole & maybe people will stop calling you an asshole??

      Much like the 3 trillion underaged hookers who are shipped to the Superb Owl every year, perhaps the truth about bad anonymity is no where near as bad as people pretend its just a pointless label that people shove more shit into that makes them unhappy.

      Much like Yelp reviews... Humans RARELY post reviews if they are actually happy with something, so when you look you see 100x more bad reviews & so then that must be a bad place... because you forget you've never posted reviews when you were pleased with the service & assume others do it...
      There is a system that lets you sue the bad man who said the mean things online.
      The problem is people just want to get paid by the platform who has lots of money instead of random basement dweller who can only offer some bottle caps & half a hot pocket as the settlement payment.
      People think THEY are owed a duty by the platforms to never be upset or offended while ignoring that they upset & offend people.

      Amazingly I am much more than TAC & I maintain other identities some of which have never made a comment about copyright GASP.
      But these aren't just nodding socks to post in support of TAC, they are other parts of me that I don't want touched by TAC.
      Not all anonymous people online are the same thing,
      stop treating us all the same... or I'll send you dick pics. :D

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 12:15pm

        Re: Re: Hi! I'm a shitty poster child!

        Okay wall of text with breaks...
        I just tried to avoid that thing where I accidently use markup commands in the course of my regular typing & it messes up the post... this was a bad idea and those responsible have been sacked & the post redone at great expense.

        A Moose bit me once...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2021 @ 5:19am

    With Texit and Calexit both being floated, if social media companies moved to an independent California or an independent Texas, US law would no longer apply to them.

    US laws would not apply to web sites in an independent Texas or an Independent California.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2021 @ 8:24am

    Anonymity is already gone

    Long time lurker, first time commenter. For those of us who like to use imageboards (that form of pre-social media which arose between forums and websites like MySpace and Facebook), anonymity has been gone for a while now. For all the media consternation about 4chan in particular, the site has banned VPNs for years, which has radically reduced the amount and variety of speech there. Those of us who wanted a more free and varied conversation moved to sites like 8chan, which was recently taken down, or p2p solutions like zeronet. The problem with these alternatives is that they are small communities which are plagued by illegal content and spam. Since that illegal content in particular is too much for me, I resolve to post using my real IP on the "regular internet" and know that it's prudent to watch what I say. Maybe a typical person would feel that's anonymous, but I know that in principle whatever I write can be collected and traced back to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nerdrage (profile), 2 Feb 2021 @ 11:33am

    the problem with social media

    The social media business model is this: users are the product, to be sold to customers (advertisers) who provide the funds to keep the business going.

    So that's the fundamental issue. Products don't have anonymity. Products can't expect to be treated like human beings. If you object to being treated like an inanimate object, then get off social media and stick only with services where you pay a subscription so you know that you are the customer, not the product.

    Anybody who uses Facebook, Instagram, etc is either clueless or willingly putting themselves into a situation where they will be treated with no respect. I don't use social media at all (well okay YouTube but I don't really count that, it's more like free low-grade Netflix) and I'm surviving just fine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    yet another under the radar..., 2 Feb 2021 @ 1:46pm

    they want to database you

    Every time the big companies say anonymity is the problem, we should go after the things they want. Let's do GPDR one better. Anytime a company links an identity or unique identifier in a database to a physical address, email address, phone number, or SSN, lets say they are legally liable for damages if the database is breached and can be sued. Prohibit arbitration in their terms of service. If they request arbitration, the entire contract is void. They think they own the database. Let's put some liability on keeping data beyond what is necessary to serve the customer. If it's a business asset, tax it. If not, don't let them sell or rent it. We want anonymity. They want lots of things. Just read their terms of service for clues! Let's go after some of those unreasonable demands!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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