Meet Me Under a Bridge for Some Exciting News

Executive summary: Anonymity in cyberspace should be eliminated.

There has been lots of talk lately about the responsibility of social media companies for removing content that promotes terrorism. I agree that they should do that.

But complaints about terrorist hatred and recruiting people to implement their ideas completely ignore the root problem, which is that social media companies (and the internet in general) virtually assure their customers that they can remain anonymous, even to the social media companies themselves. It becomes easier to be irresponsible or criminal if you are assured of your anonymity.

For example, you can establish any number of fake accounts and anonymous pages on Facebook without providing any identification whatsoever. I have done just that several times as an experiment.
And the things you can do with that easily acquired anonymity are certainly not limited to calling for someone to commit a terrorist act. The same goes for free email services such as Gmail, which are totally anonymous.

I think the real solution to many of the problems on the internet is simply the total elimination of anonymity.

To use the internet, you should be required to identify yourself in a verifiable manner, not only to your internet provider, but also, and more importantly, to anybody you interact with on the internet, whether it be by email or on social media. Naturally, this would bring screams of protest from all sorts of people up to no good and people wanting to posture as protectors of “freedom.”

The vast majority of anonymous Facebook pages and fake accounts are anonymous and fake for good reasons. And most of the stuff that gets shared, even by normally sane people, is from anonymous sources. Yes, most of those Facebook pages you share (including the ones I agree with and have even Liked) are from totally anonymous players.

But think for a moment about the world outside of the internet. People who don’t say who they are in real life situations usually are not trusted. Why should it be any different on the internet or on social media platforms?

Would you listen to a story told to you by an unknowable masked person under a bridge somewhere, believe the story, and then share it with virtually everybody you interact with, without identifying the source or even thinking to find out who that “masked man” was? Probably not, but why has this become normal behavior on Facebook and the platforms of other such social media companies?

As long as people continue to steep themselves in the unthinking Share and Like culture that the huge social media companies have created, nothing will change.

Frankly I do not expect things to change. The vast majority of content in cyberspace will continue to be presented by anonymous players and accepted by credulous people too ecstatic about their “free” society to think beyond the Share button.

This entry was posted in General and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.