by Cindy Cohn and Colette Vogele
Every new website that allows users to participate faces the same question: do you require users to use their real names? Facebook has taken a firm position that it will require real names, even at the cost of disappearances of human rights activists around the world. Other sites have suffered as anonymous speakers poison the conversation and use the shield of anonymity to harass women. What's a social site to do? Join two of the Internet's top lawyers, EFF's Legal Director Cindy Cohn and Colette Vogele, as they debate the question.
As former Representative Anthony Weiner discovered the hard way, remaining anonymous in this hyper-social world is becoming nearlyimpossible. But what sucks for Anthony Wiener has been great for conversations on the Web – with the rise of authenticated platforms, anonymous comments and posts are giving way to real dialogs between authors and their audiences.
For example, when comments on popular sites like TechCrunch became tied to real Facebook profiles, the experience went from a juvenile insult-fest to a civil value-add information exchange. There’s undoubtedly progress to be made, but authentication and social platforms are giving us a glimpse of what the future holds: low friction ways to connect your opinion to a piece of content, easier ways to see what your friends care about, and better ways to insert your POV.
For better or worse, it’s becoming harder to remain anonymous online. In this panel discussion, we will discuss how technology is changing online self-expression.
9th–13th March 2012