No more Anonymous AskMe questions?
March 10, 2008 10:22 PM   Subscribe

I sign on with fervor!

Sing me____________
posted by My Bloody Pony at 10:36 PM on March 10, 2008

Well, he has a point. Nothing of value has ever been published anonymously.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:04 PM on March 10, 2008

Good luck, motherfucker.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:52 PM on March 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

If anonymity is criminalized, only criminals will be anonymous. (duh.)
posted by mek at 12:09 AM on March 11, 2008

There's a disappointing lack of comment submission at his very Web 1.0 web site.
posted by mullingitover at 12:13 AM on March 11, 2008

I don't think being anonymous itself should be a criminal act. But if you are demonstrably using anonymity to facilitate your libeling of someone, much like any kind of harassment, you should be open to civil and criminal lawsuits for that. To that point, anonymous libelers and harassers should be hit with worse penalties than those who choose not to be anonymous. Let the punishment fit the crime.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:43 AM on March 11, 2008

Blazecock Pileon has the gist of most non-USA libel laws. They protect the victim on the grounds they usually have the harder job to prove maliciousness. I don't know about making the penalties for anonymous slander higher, however. That seems to slant it back in favour of the people with the most resources to win. How much of what you type is really anonymous, if newscorp or somebody else wants to get you?
posted by bystander at 4:22 AM on March 11, 2008

No anonymity means no anonymous whistle-blowing - and then maybe at last society can finally be rid of this scourge!
posted by kcds at 4:37 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

The issue I have is, that one would assume slander and libel coming from someone who's anonymous generally carries less weight.

If I see "Blazecock Pileon Sucks Dicks!" written on a toilet wall, I'm probably going to assume it should be ignored. If a journalist makes the same exciting claims on page 3 of the Washington Post, it would probably carry more weight.
posted by Jimbob at 4:38 AM on March 11, 2008

You just know some anonymous poster somewhere said something about him he didn't like
posted by poppo at 4:52 AM on March 11, 2008

The issue I have is, that one would assume slander and libel coming from someone who's anonymous generally carries less weight.

Look at the anonymous "sources" behind the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" smear job done on Kerry in 2004.

From examples like that, I have to think it's at least a little optimistic to assume people always give anonymous sources less credence on the important stuff. Gossip just works that way, tapping into people's worst impulses.

No anonymity means no anonymous whistle-blowing - and then maybe at last society can finally be rid of this scourge!

I'm not sure I agree. At least with using anonymity as an excuse to denigrate whistleblowing, a spotlight is thrown on the kind of people who usually don't want a spotlight on them. Unless the whistleblower really is lying, the people who are breaking laws probably don't want to risk testing the truth or falsity of the issue in court.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:44 AM on March 11, 2008

Truth of the matter is that anonymous posting is the way the internet works. People can say anything they wish and not need to reveal themselves to anyone. Who cares I say, the only problem with this is that some people hold it as the word of God. "If it's posted somewhere online it's got to be true" is the motto for some people. Look at that wikipedia Kennedy assassination thing. People actually thought that the reporter (sry forgot the name) had something to do with the Kennedy assassination. Why you ask? Because someone was playing a prank. I think this whole 203 bill should be thrown out or re-modified. Just look at wikipedia alone and how much character assassination goes on there. The bill should work this way: Either A. you give up your anonymous poster so they can face the music or B. we hold you completely responsible. Watch how many people are willing to defame and bash when their lives are on the line. Now obviously you should let some stuff roll off your back but if it gets serious then something should be done. I'm talking about slander against political figures, companies, and special interest groups. Look at the swift boat thing. How many votes did Kerry loose because of that crap? How hard is it for the republicans to make up stuff about Obama or Clinton... no wait they already did! According to anonymous sources online, Obama is a terrorist. See imagine a perfect online world where people would have to say "I'm Ralph Smith and Obama has been linked to terrorists. Here is my source." But no we don't have that instead we have a population of cowards who hide in the shadows throwing mud at anything and everything & the sad part is there are lemmings that are willing to listen.

that is all

posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:38 AM on March 11, 2008

OMG, people are saying stupid things on the internets! Sound the alarms!
This guy must be a scientologist.

This bill should be changed to say that all anonymous comments are required to be taken with a grain of salt. And impose fines for people who respond to troll-bait. That is all.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 7:25 AM on March 11, 2008

Truly touching. Clueless, but goodhearted.
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 7:32 AM on March 11, 2008

"Truth of the matter is that anonymous posting is the way the internet works."

No. Actually the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
posted by Vorpil at 10:12 AM on March 11, 2008

Vorpil I think you have been watching too more futurama.....
posted by Mastercheddaar at 11:02 AM on March 11, 2008

Mastercheddaar I think you may have watched too few Ted Stevens speeches...

When I heard about this I thought it was at least a Rep from Kentucky. Aside from the absurdity and illegality of this bill it raises some thoughts which I've had concerning aspects of web 2.0 (the "tagging," social networking, blogging half, not the design half), et al.

Humor me if you will. In web world 1.0, (well prior to that there were massive flamewars on usenet and such, although that was prior to my time) on personal website people could slander and libel on their own website. However, both were tied, in some sense, to a personal identifier. Usenet and the like to your email (was it common to have pseudonym addresses?) and ICANN requires correct registration info in the whois database (yeah i know, and yeah i know if you are out to slander do you really care to put your real info). But, at a basic level, speech on the web was made to be tied to an identity that was tied to you. I realize this selectively leaves out a lot particularly things like free host, geocities, type sites and other stuff.

In the new world web you've got a wider array of opportunities for speech. If we start with blogs, social network stuff, and tagging it seems like a greater opportunities for what would be considered opportunities for libel/slander. Whether someone makes a blog "8 Bit Bites" or sees me out and about on the town snaps some photos and tags them all on flickr with the same, creates a myspace account, etc. This is much easier to do pseudo-anonymously today, it seems to me than previously.

I guess my question is just are the tools for slander and libel growing as the web develops? On the surface it would appear like they might. Now, this is in no way a call for any kind of bill like this, and actually there was a Cali case, Krinsky v. Doe, that said anonymous speech protects internet trolls. Regardless, even being one who sides on strong privacy protection, I wonder if there isn't a greater threat to civility/reputation now as the more people produce content on the web.
posted by 8 Bit at 11:58 AM on March 11, 2008

I have only one point of difficulty in this debate.

The internet is not some nebulous other world, and when humans participate on a site, their online persona is not a unique person from the human. Anonymous postings are not made by 'nobody', they are made by a person who is attempting to not show their name.

Now, there is no law, as far as I know, about refusing to release your name to another citizen. There are laws in place which require you to give your correct name to police, again "as far as I know".

So....anonymous posting on some random website? Perfectly fine in my books. But if the internet had cops who could provide proof of their status, you *should* be required to acknowledge that and respond with your real name. Assuming they have jurisdiction over your location, that is.
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:45 PM on March 11, 2008

flabdablet's sock puppet: "Truly touching. Clueless, but goodhearted."

That's the worst kind of clueless. I'll take incompetent malice any day of the week; at least that's a little easier to defeat since you don't have to look like you're in favor of {child porn | drug dealers | terrorists | bullies} while you do it.

The road to hell is paved by people whose desire to do good vastly exceeds their competence. We'd be better off if they just stayed home.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:12 PM on March 11, 2008

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