Bournemouth’s Daily Echo has revealed the identity of an online user after he praised himself under an anonymous username.
The Echo reports how praise for Councillor Ben Grower on its site turned out to be authored by a certain, erm, Councillor Ben Grower, under the name Omegaman.
- Underneath a story about surf reef Omegaman wrote: “At least two councillors seem to be concerned about this mess. Well done Cllrs Ratcliffe and Grower.”
- Writing about a housing plan in Kinson he wrote: “I have friends who live in the area. They say councillors Ted Taylor and Ben Grower fought hard against the proposals”
- And on the subject of an expanding dentist’s surgery he wrote: “Just shows that the area does have councillors who care about their residents… Well done Ted Taylor, Ben Grower and Beryl Baxter.”
The Echo reports:
“Cllr Grower said responsibility lies with the Daily Echo because people can post under assumed names, and that the comments were only fun that no-one took seriously.”
The Echo says that when Grower was challenged, he initially said that the comments ‘could be anybody’, but later said: “I have done nothing against the law. And probably next time I will just use a different pseudonym.”
And the Echo’s response:
“The Echo does respect its readers’ right to anonymity but we felt that when a councillor pretends to be somebody else to improve his reputation that it is of sufficient public interest to tell people about it.” (Nick Rowe, website editor)
A comment below the article questions the paper’s decision to reveal user information. ‘Silky’ writes:
“Seriously though, I think people feel able to post and air their true opinion safe in the knowledge that they are kept anonymous. I for one don’t appreciate the Echo revealing personal details of posters, especially to create a pretty boring ‘scoop’.”
Bournemouth based blogger, Chris Nee, raises the question of anonymity protection:
“So, should anonymity mean anonymity regardless? Or does the public have a right to know when a public official is acting in a duplicitous way?”
(Hat tip for Echo links: @SamShepherd via Twitter)