Monday, April 12, 2010

Nameless No More

Speaking of reader comments, which were the subject of the last posting, it is interesting to note the findings of this New York Times story about how "News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments."

What is interesting to see is that the paper's rhetoric connects this policy decision to the so-called "end of privacy" argument at the end of the story.

If commenters were asked to provide their real names for display online, some would no doubt give false identities, and verifying them would be too labor-intensive to be realistic. But news executives say that merely making the demand for a name and an e-mail address would weed out much of the most offensive commentary.

Several industry executives cited a more fundamental force working in favor of identifying commenters. Through blogging and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, millions of people have grown accustomed to posting their opinions — to say nothing of personal details — with their names attached, for all to see. Adapting the Facebook model, some news sites allow readers to post a picture along with a comment, another step away from anonymity.

"There is a younger generation that doesn’t feel the same need for privacy," Ms. Huffington said. "Many people, when you give them other choices, they choose not to be anonymous."

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