There is an oft-repeated journalists’ line about how real reporters give their pictures and real names, because they stand by their stories.  Indeed there is something nice about the idea that one who brings the truth can stand up boldly and be unashamed to show his or her face.  However, insistence on this may be maladaptive.  Tim May writes,

Anonymity may not be either good or not good, but the outlawing of anonymity would require a police state to enforce, would impinge on basic ideas about private transactions, and would foreclose many options that some degree of anonymity makes possible.

This is a power that can be used for good or ill: a Chinese dissident who uses TOR seeks to get the word out about his oppressive government, and we look upon it and smile.  A bored fourteen-year-old uses it to spread personal information on an imageboard, thereby creating a huge invasion of privacy, and we cringe.

Published in: on October 28, 2009 at 3:55 PM  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hmmmmm.

    South Korea already requires real identity when posting on large forums .

    I certainly agree about the importance of anonymity to protect, say, political dissidents in an oppressive government. But I’ve also seen anonymous trolls tear apart internet communities and kill useful blogs. And I don’t see people who use their real names trolling.

    I wonder if there’s a middle ground.

    • You don’t? I think they can be found on YouTube.

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