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How to Invent a Person Online (Is online anonymity even possible today?)

On April 8, 2013, I received an envelope in the mail from a nonexistent return address in Toledo, Ohio. Inside was a blank thank-you note and an Ohio state driver’s license. The ID belonged to a 28-year-old man called Aaron Brown—6 feet tall and 160 pounds with a round face, scruffy brown hair, a thin beard, and green eyes. His most defining feature, however, was that he didn’t exist. I know that because I created him.
posted by spock on Jul 28, 2014 - 34 comments

"Nothing. You're screwed."

During their Freedom Hosting investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 27, 2014 - 39 comments

Where are the like, skip, charts buttons ? We removed them.

5TFU is a simple web radio station. Its content is completely anonymous; upload a track, and it's on the radio, identified only by a numeric string. Don't like what you hear? Click 5TFU! and it's gone.
posted by mkb on Jan 19, 2014 - 46 comments

"It was much, much more fun being absolutely unknown"

Laurie Penny interviews Neil Gaiman on his career, success and influence.
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Dec 5, 2013 - 11 comments

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog

Cartoonist Peter Steiner created The New Yorker's most popular gag panel. What happened after that?
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Oct 27, 2013 - 26 comments

If it's controversial, announce it on Friday evening

Managing Editor Jimmy Soni appeared on CNN Friday to explain The Huffington Post's latest effort to fight trolls: as of next month, commenters won't be allowed to post anonymously on the site. "We're looking to promote civil discourse on our site," Soni said. "We want to do what we've always done: promote a positive, healthy community at our global news website." "We feel like it reflects the maturing internet and our maturing website," he added. Video here.
posted by Benny Andajetz on Aug 23, 2013 - 87 comments

Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child

In an essay for The New Inquiry, Moira Weigel and Mal Ahern consider The End of Men, global recession era capitalism, and ironic sexism.
"Mancession Lit portrays the Man-Child as pitiful, contrasting him with women who are well-adjusted and adult. But it rarely acknowledges the real question that this odd couple raises. Namely, are women better suited to the new economy because they are easier to exploit?"

posted by GameDesignerBen on Jul 9, 2013 - 108 comments

The Everyday Sexism Project

The Everyday Sexism Project collects user-submitted reports from women to document their day-to-day experiences with normalized sexism, including sexual harassment and job discrimination. Entries can be submitted at the site, in an email to founder Laura Bates or to their twitter account. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 20, 2013 - 200 comments

Mark Zuckerberg's Hoodie

It is June 2, 2010 and Mark Zuckerberg is sweating. He’s wearing his hoodie—he’s always wearing his hoodie—and he’s on stage and either the lights or the questions are too hot. … “Do you want to take off the hoodie?” asks Kara Swisher.
“I never take off the hoodie.”
The varied cultural resonances of an unassuming garment.
posted by the mad poster! on Jan 29, 2013 - 157 comments

"Most people are not aware how sensitive their writing style can be"

Why Hackers Should Be Afraid Of How They Write. Download JSAN here. (via)
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 27, 2013 - 43 comments

You’re not anonymous

Sumit Suman recently visited a site, did not sign up for anything, did not connect via social media, but got a personal email from the site the next day. Here’s how they did it.
posted by Foci for Analysis on Dec 12, 2012 - 52 comments

12-Steps for the 21st Century

Alcoholics Anonymous and similar 12-step programs have recently attracted calls to review their long-standing policies: supporting young people, rethinking transphobia, welcoming agnostic viewpoints, and challenging the need for anonymity. [more inside]
posted by divabat on Jul 8, 2012 - 156 comments

"And by the way, your kid's stroller sucks."

The Mommy-Fight Site. What does it mean to raise a child in "America’s highest-income, best-educated Census area? D.C. Urban Moms and Dads might be as close as it gets to a field guide to parentis Washingtonianis" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 14, 2012 - 80 comments

"It may be easier to be private than anyone thinks," Patton says.

Meet Your Neighbor, Thomas Pynchon, From the November 11, 1996 issue of New York Magazine.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 4, 2012 - 43 comments

"And with millions of chicks checking in daily, there's never been a better time to be on the hunt...."

A column by John Brownlee over at Cult of Mac yesterday highlighted his privacy concerns about the app Girls Around Me -- which used a mashup of FourSquare check-ins, Google Maps and Facebook public profile information to show the user women who were nearby. In response to the story, Foursquare cut off the app's API access to their data, effectively knocking it out of commission. CNET: How to prevent friends checking you into locations at Facebook Places. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 31, 2012 - 99 comments

Nobody's Home(page)

The Gallery of Default Anonymity What being nobody looks like all over the web.
posted by oneswellfoop on Mar 24, 2012 - 27 comments

This debt we pay to human guile; with torn and bleeding hearts we smile, and mouth with myriad subtleties.

We study techniques for identifying an anonymous author via linguistic stylometry, i.e., comparing the writing style against a corpus of texts of known authorship. We experimentally demonstrate the effectiveness of our techniques with as many as 100,000 candidate authors. [...] In over 20% of cases, our classifiers can correctly identify an anonymous author given a corpus of texts from 100,000 authors; in about 35% of cases the correct author is one of the top 20 guesses.
On the Feasibility of Internet-Scale Author Identification[pdf] is a draft of a paper for the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. [more inside]
posted by BrotherCaine on Feb 22, 2012 - 22 comments

Pseudonyms drive communities

"Pseudonyms are the most valuable contributors to communities because they contribute the highest quantity and quality of comments." As anonymous and pseudonymic online contributors struggle to remain non-identifiable, Disqus data show pseudonymous commenters are the best. (most recently previously)
posted by mrgrimm on Jan 10, 2012 - 46 comments

Open Transactions

Open Transactions is an anonymous digital cash system based upon the Lucre anonymized cache cryptographic library. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Dec 27, 2011 - 32 comments

"In almost all cases it is not possible to bring a civil action against" a website that hosts your nude images posted without your consent.

This past July, Forbes blogger Kashmir Hill posted a three-part series about "online defamation and involuntary nudity." The first entry focused on an offender: Hunter Moore, owner of IsAnyoneUp.com (Link is NSFW.) The second entry focused on a victim: Paul Syiek, whose company was defamed by a disgruntled ex-employee on the consumer website Rip-off Report. The third profiled a Senior Copyright attorney at Microsoft, Colette Vogele, who co-founded a side project this year to help victims: WithoutMyConsent.org. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 13, 2011 - 53 comments

Don't Worry. We're From The Internet.

On October 18, Wired embedded a reporter with both Anonymous and the #Occupy movement, calling both "a new kind of hybrid entity, one that breaks the boundaries between “real life” and the internet, creatures of the network embodied as citizens in the real world." The first entries in Quinn Norton's ongoing special report: Anonymous 101: Behind the Lulz were posted today. Coverage from Wired's other special report, Occupy: Dispatches from the Occupation are already online. NPR: Members Of Anonymous Share Values, Aesthetics [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 8, 2011 - 43 comments

"While we still live in a sexist society, any woman who sticks her head above the parapet will encounter misogynistic abuse."

"You should have your tongue ripped out." Female bloggers speak out about misogynist comments, rape threats and death threats. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 4, 2011 - 102 comments

Telex

Telex is an interesting proxy-less anti-censorship system designed to combat state-level censorship (pdf). But would it cost too much? Should we really trust "good" state-level actors with our anti-censorship efforts? And might it divert resources from established anonymity projects, like Tor, I2I, Freenet, etc.
posted by jeffburdges on Aug 7, 2011 - 18 comments

Deindividuation and Polarization through Online Anonymity

The Guardian: Online commenting: How the internet created an age of rage
posted by zarq on Jul 25, 2011 - 93 comments

Look at My Professional White Background. Now Look at Your Site. Now Back to Mine. Now....

If your website is full of assholes, it's your fault. from Anil Dash. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 21, 2011 - 143 comments

Does allowing anonymous comments help or hinder?

GigaOM writer: "Anonymity has real value, both in comments and elsewhere." In the wake of the faux lesbian Damascus blogger, the question over whether or not to allow anonymous comments is being raised again. Some claim anonymous comments allow for dissent and are essential to democracy. Other claim that that anonymous comments lead to harsher, uncivil conversation that serves nobody. [more inside]
posted by zooropa on Jun 20, 2011 - 36 comments

"/b/ has given rise to more fluid practices to signal identity and status in spite of, or perhaps because of, the lack of technological support."

4chan and /b/: An Analysis of Anonymity and Ephemerality in a Large Online Community is a paper by researchers from MIT and the University of Southampton. The paper itself [PDF].
posted by Sticherbeast on May 31, 2011 - 42 comments

Facebook Connect Comments => The end of Internet discourse?

Facebook Connect Comments are not a new feature, but ever since Techcrunch started using it the outrage has started to pour in. [more inside]
posted by asymptotic on Mar 8, 2011 - 221 comments

We Are Going to Know a New Freedom and a New Happiness

Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works. "There is evidence that a big part of AA’s effectiveness may have nothing to do with the actual (12) steps. It may derive from something more fundamental: the power of the group. The importance of this is reflected by the fact that the more deeply AA members commit to the group, rather than just the program, the better they fare." [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jul 6, 2010 - 145 comments

But my name really is Deathblood Blackaxe

As Blizzard prepares for the next World of Warcraft expansion, they are updating their server system, BattleNet, to use a real-name identification system called RealID, allowing your friends -- and their friends -- to see your real name. Some like it, some hate it. The system is optional; but today, Blizzard announced that all posts on their official forums will be under the poster's real name. [more inside]
posted by waraw on Jul 6, 2010 - 322 comments

Anonymous Buzzkill

A worrisome set of posts from Princeton University's 'Freedom to Tinker" Blog:
In many situations, it may be far easier to unmask apparently anonymous online speakers than they, I, or many others in the policy community have appreciated. Today, I'll tell a story that helps explain what I mean. Second post: what BoingBoing knows about John Doe. Third, and most concerning post: The traceability of an online anonymous comment. Related post: a well researched review of the privacy concerns around the roll-out of, and push-back against, Google Buzz.
posted by Rumple on Feb 18, 2010 - 41 comments

Trolling the front page.

"Publishing anonymous, unvetted, and unreviewed commentary online is hugely divergent from the policies of [mainstream media] publications' print editions. It's a different kettle of fish, one that can stink for the publishers. Indeed, those publishers and their new-media managers are being reckless." [more inside]
posted by Ouisch on Dec 5, 2009 - 59 comments

One giant leap for Chinese Internet Censorship

Chinese news site dispense with user anonymity. Includes an updated list of sites China actively blocks, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International (?!? - both links work only outside of China). prev
posted by allkindsoftime on Sep 9, 2009 - 40 comments

Internet Anonymity: A Right of the Past?

Internet Anonymity: A Right of the Past? | North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology
A newly designed Internet Protocol, restricting communication source autonomy, is being quietly drafted with detailed technical standards that “define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous” by a United Nations agency. The “IP Traceback” drafting group, which has declined to release key documents or allow their meetings to be open to the public, includes, among others, the United States National Security Agency.
[more inside]
posted by shetterly on Jun 25, 2009 - 52 comments

Orwellian, eh?

In what has been described as "a major blow to online free speech in Canada", an Ontario court has ordered the owners of FreeDominion.ca to disclose all personal information on eight anonymous posters to the chat site - including email and IP addresses. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Mar 25, 2009 - 34 comments

No more Anonymous AskMe questions?

Kentucky Lawmaker Wants to Ban Anonymous Internet Posting. This bill is pretty much a nonstarter, but should online defamation be criminalized? [pdf]
posted by desjardins on Mar 10, 2008 - 20 comments

"Leaving no trace [of our daily lives] is nearly impossible."

The Anonymity Experiment. Is it possible to hide in plain sight? Privacy-minded people have long warned of a world in which an individual’s every action leaves a trace, in which corporations and governments can peer at will into your life with a few keystrokes on a computer. Now one of the people in charge of information-gathering for the U.S. government says, essentially, that such a world has arrived.
posted by amyms on Feb 16, 2008 - 44 comments

Hire Michael Schur

The authors of the sportswriting-mocking blog Fire Joe Morgan have dropped their previous anonymity. Among the blog's contributors was the late Robert Altman. [more inside]
posted by RogerB on Feb 6, 2008 - 26 comments

The great unknown

anonymity is often a sure route to notoriety. An article on anonymous authors from The Guardian.
posted by zingzangzung on Jan 12, 2008 - 10 comments

Amazing discoveries in plain-text Tor exit traffic.

This is an ironic tale of the consequences of inept application of cryptographic tools. Or is it? Dan Egerstad, a Swedish hacker, gained access to hundreds of computer network accounts around the world, belonging to various embassies, corporations and other organizations. How did he do it? Very easily: by sniffing exit traffic on his Tor nodes. [more inside]
posted by Anything on Dec 4, 2007 - 27 comments

Exposing Capitol Hill since 2007.

The Capitolist - Web 2.0 meets Capitol Hill The Capitolist is an anonymous BBS for Capitol Hill staffers to post to, and the rest of us to read. Anyone coming from a Hill IP can post anything they want: weird, banal, frustrated, or the occasional full-blown cry in the wilderness. There's even LOLcats here. How long will it last? How far will it go? Hit refresh & find out!
posted by scalefree on Jul 13, 2007 - 31 comments

Anybody want to swap refs?

You cannot guarantee freedom of speech and enforce copyright law. Freenet is a decentralized censorship resistant p2p distributed network which aims to provide freedom of speech through strong anonymity. By pooling bandwidth and hard drive space (similar to Seti@home), users are able to anonymously publish and retrieve any kind of file.
posted by localhuman on Dec 22, 2006 - 158 comments

Oops

A concerned reader in St. Louis just might be Dave Eggers. A weekend glitch on Amazon Canada allowed people to see the true secret identities behind reviews on the site. [NYT Link]
posted by drezdn on Feb 17, 2004 - 30 comments

Ahem!

A person who cannot be named for legal reasons has secretly denied participating in an alleged act that cannot be described for legal reasons. But you know who we mean.
Do you?
posted by magullo on Nov 13, 2003 - 68 comments

No logs here, move along....

The No Logs Network is encouraging web hosts and system admins to refrain from keeping site access logs, saying their storage can constitute a threat to free speech. It sounds like a good idea, but considering how paranoid many system admins tend to be, one has to wonder whether it could ever really take off as a movement.
posted by mrbula on May 26, 2003 - 24 comments

Are you David Still?

Are you David Still? If not, well, you can be. David Still has given up his personality to the masses, so you can write to people as him, and better still, reply to people who have sent e-mails back to the enigmatic Mr Still. Potential for confusion: I'd say fair to middling...
posted by creeky on May 31, 2002 - 2 comments

In a small Ohio town, a fight over the right to knock on doors

In a small Ohio town, a fight over the right to knock on doors You are a Supreme Court Justice. How would you rule on this case?
posted by Postroad on Feb 26, 2002 - 36 comments

SafeWeb not so safe?

SafeWeb not so safe? It was pitched as a "web anonymizer." It was supposedly even "CIA proof." Now some holes have been found.
posted by yesster on Feb 12, 2002 - 13 comments

PrintCafe sues idiot.

PrintCafe sues idiot. Literally. They are suing several individuals who posted anonymous comments on F---edCompany's message boards. So far, all they have are the aliases the comments were posted under, namely "Ex-DLJ", "sucky-me", and "idiot!". Apparently that's all they're going to get, since Pud says here, "FC servers contain no logs ". Also of note is item number 4 on this page of the letter Pud received.
posted by Potsy on Nov 28, 2001 - 8 comments

Safeweb has turned off their free privacy service.

Safeweb has turned off their free privacy service. Company spokeswoman Sandra Song said "Consumer privacy is more of an idealistic vision..." Is anonymous use of the Internet dying?
posted by tranquileye on Nov 20, 2001 - 11 comments

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