A short debate appeared in yesterday’s Observer, over whether newspaper site commenters should be allowed to remain anonymous or not.
(It’s particularly timely given historian Orlando Figes’ Amazon review confessions, and also – as I’ve just posted – the Telegraph writer Cristina Odone’s outrage over internet pests’ challenging her facts)
Journalist and academic Aleks Krotoski argues for the right to anonymity (an extract):
The anti-anonymity brigade assumes that the cloak of the keyboard brings out the very worst in people because there’s no accountability in an identity vacuum. This belief, however, is purely anecdotal and is completely empirically unfounded. Really, what happens online is just the opposite: research shows that people are more willing to be open and honest and to help one another than to try to break down the virtual social order.
The Observer’s Rachel Cooke, meanwhile, argues for unmasking the users (an extract):
As for cowardice, yes, of course anonymous posters are cowards. It’s pathetic. The honourable thing to do is to put your name to bad reviews and all the other stuff, and if this makes your social life awkward – as it sometimes does for me – the upside is that, in future, you will think rather harder before you begin typing.