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Bill Loguidice's picture

The end of anonymity on the Internet and it's all thanks to Facebook?

TrollfaceTrollfaceI was listening earlier to the net@night 192 podcast ("Guy Kawasaki and Enchantment" March 8, 2011) on my iPhone and Amber McCarthur and Leo Laporte were having an interesting discussion regarding Facebook's pervasiveness and how it might solve the problem of anonymous trolling on the Internet. As you know, some of around here on Armchair Arcade have been championing the idea of one's online identity being tied directly to their actual identity (here and here, as just two examples). The basic premise is that just like they do in the real world, an adult's negative actions would have consequences because others would know exactly who was causing the grief. The problem was always how to implement such a system, because previous attempts at real name accountability (as detailed in those two example links) were met with anger and resistance. In short, there was no practical way to make this happen considering the wide open and non-unified nature of the Web. Interestingly enough, the answer may be in Facebook's ever increasing dominance. You see, many sites now are requiring use of a Facebook login to leave comments--anonymous griefers need not apply. According to McCarthur, the sites that have implemented such a system have seen a slight reduction in the volume of comments, but a dramatic increase in the quality of comments and few, if any, trolls. While we've already debated this idea endlessly around here with neither side really budging from their positions, I think even though the Facebook-login-to-comment's success is largely anecdotal at this point, this is certainly a trend worth keeping an eye on for those of us in the accountability camp. Who knew that Facebook could have been the argument clincher all along? With over 600 million users and counting, it's clearly one of the most viable solutions out there. As Bill Loguidice - the actual Bill Loguidice - I can say without hesitation that if this indeed represents a turning point, I believe that the vast majority of us will have a heck of lot of great conversations to look forward to.

Matt Barton's picture

Google CEO: The End of Internet Anonymity

A few weeks back we were having a discussion about Blizzard's short-lived plan to require real names on its forums. Although that effort failed, Google CEO Eric Schmidt would argue it's just a temporary victory for fans of anonymity. According to Schmidt, the current situation is simply too dangerous, and eventually governments will require some type of verification. He also points out that current AI technology is good enough to identify you anyway, simply using online posts, Facebook photos, and so on. Anyone paying attention to the news has noticed these trends already, particularly in China and countries with fundamentalist regimes. I'd also point out the flap over Wikileaks; I could easy see the politicians using that hubbub as an excuse to impose tighter restrictions on the internet. How will the quality and quantity of information on the internet change without anonymity?

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