Calls to abandon anonymity on the web are growing, with both Google and Facebook adding their voices.
As governments around the world are calling for harsher social media laws – and handing down criminal sentences based on what people write – the issue of anonymity is becoming a hot potato.
The Internet, and social media in particular, has been seen as a lifeline to bloggers and activists in many countries, and are often the only source of credible news.
On the other hand, western countries are clamping down on social networking, especially when it is involved in social unrest or protests. Recently two Facebookers were hit with four-year jail sentences for encouraging rioting in the UK – even though there was no response to their posts.
Now, the call to lift the mask on anonymous posters is growing too.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently told the Techonomy conference that governments may push for anonymity to be abandoned and may demand a verified name service for people.
He also appears to agree that anonymity is dangerous. “In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you,” the Huffington Post reports him as saying.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s marketing director Randi Zuckerberg believes that getting rid of anonymity will stop online bullying and harassment.
Marie Claire magazine quotes Zuckerberg saying that anonymity on the Internet “has to go away”.
She adds: “People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.”