Anonymity on the web

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Blue Velvet, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Would you post on MacRumors if you had to post a reply to this thread under your real name?

    Farhad Manjoo over at Slate writes:

    Personally, I wouldn't. But maybe some people might be justifiably more circumspect about protecting their identities than others. He goes onto say:

    In unmoderated spaces, perhaps. Apple gets a mention:

    He throws out the challenge:

  2. eternlgladiator macrumors 68000


    Jun 20, 2010
    Twin Cities
    I don't mind the idea one way or the other that much. In fact I like the idea of using both the best. I like that I can come on here and use a persona that while somewhat different from my every day self is still similar. It's not like I talk differently and it probably wouldn't take much work to figure out who I was based on my macrumors name. At the same time I don't mind commenting using facebook or facebook comments but my tone changes slightly depending on the issue.

    This is kind of a tough issue because you've got people that don't want to be know and people that don't care. I could really care less if people figured out who I was on here because I'm not out doing anything malicious or that I think would hurt my reputation.
  3. Macaddicttt macrumors 6502a


    Apr 22, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    One thing to keep in mind is that rarity of your name and that it's not really that much of a unique identifier for most people. Someone with the name of John Smith is far more anonymous on the internet than, say, me. My last name is extremely unique, and any internet search of my full name is only going to return results that refer to me.
  4. smithrh, Mar 10, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011

    smithrh macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    I would not post ANYTHING for fear of _appearing_ to violate NDAs.

    Mind you, I'm NOT violating NDAs, but it would be far better to remain silent in this case.

    Add moderation and the problem of nasty posts and posters tends to go away - but it doesn't go to zero.

    Edited to add: and I forgot to mention how much I hate Facebook and their data-mining ways... We don't need more links to Facebook, we need less. I'm very likely to be cancelling my Facebook account - I suppose that means I can't post on some sites now, oh well.
  5. R94N macrumors 68020


    May 30, 2010
    I would probably post less, and think a little more about what I am posting, if that was the case.
  6. arogge macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2002
    Nope, I wouldn't post anything. Oops, too late. :p
  7. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    Meh. It's not really a big deal. Anyone who's important enough or cares enough to do that much tracking would have easier ways of finding out who I am and what I say.

    eg, we worry about Google knowing so much, or the Government knowing so much, but we never stop and think about how much our ISP knows about us. And they know where we live :p
  8. mizvalorie macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2010
    I wouldn't post if I had to use my full name. Mine is pretty unique and I'm sorry but I am paranoid.

    However I don't post offending stuff unless I am mad and I tend to use a few curse words (nothing racist, sexist, etc.)

    It doesnt bother me if people post racist or sexist things, which they do all the time. That is their belief and not mine. I do not feel the need to force my opinion on someone and therefore ignore comments like that. I feel we try to govern what people say way to much.
  9. Don't panic, Mar 11, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011

    Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Jan 30, 2004
    having a drink at Milliways
    i wouldn't.
    in principle it should be ok, but search engines makes it a non-viable option for people with unique names.
    even completely harmless posts, such as this one, would constitute a possible issue and would be frowned upon.

    let's push this to it's limit to normalize for different names frequency:
    let's assume that to access the internet your full name with a trackable, non-hackable unique identifier would be associated to every comment. every single one

    i think you'd lose almost instantly 99% of internet traffic. and while in a lot of specific (specofoc™ now belongs to melrose and can only be used with his previous approval) cases that would be good, the final result would be not.

    the ruling principle would become
    "anything you write in the internet can and will be taken out of context and used against you"
  10. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    This is a new word to me. I like it.
  11. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Jan 30, 2004
    having a drink at Milliways
    then it's yours.
    for free.

  12. gameface macrumors 6502

    Sep 11, 2010
    Boston, MA
    There is a site I admin for. I used to work for them in a creative capacity and everyone knows it. My face and name have been in the credits to their movies. Because of my name and face being so readily available to everyone I have got quite a lot of **** I personally would rather not have in my real life by trolls I banned for one reason or another. Contacting me on facebook via made up names, IP relaying me, emailing me, making up screen names that included my name but were over-the-top mean, etc. I used one screen name for all sites and found people would follow me around other forums. I eventually had to change all my logins losing status pretty much everywhere I have posted for years. Hell, I can't even have an avatar here anymore and I have been posting since 2003.

    So, yeah, I can kind of see his point.
  13. Peterkro macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2004
    Communard de Londres
    I think people very much underestimate the dangers of using your real name on the web.I have personal knowledge of people who's lives have been pretty much destroyed by stalkers,now due to confidentiality issues I'm not going into details but attempts to kill,arson and on and on.It is very common in some professions.Now I might sound like I'm exaggerating but look into it there are some excellent papers on it in the U.K. mainly by forensic psychiatrists.

    The second issue is if you have political involvement,anybody reading the news knows about the insane infiltration and monitoring of fluffy groups like climatecamp.

    Peter the Painter.
  14. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    Please note how I withheld the Sarah Palin jokes. :D
  15. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I do post under my real name, my userid is my initials and last name :eek:
  16. OneMike macrumors 603


    Oct 19, 2005
    Anonymity is not as important as common sense.

    There are many people who use aliases. "somerandomname," but that is also their twitter ID, Facebook ID, MobileME ID, etc..

    Using common sense on the information you share in my opinion is more important than being anonymous.
  17. andalusia macrumors 68030


    Apr 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    I think it's stupid to use your full name online.... *ahem* :D

    I pretty much use my name for every username I have to sign up with. Bad idea? Perhaps. I could care more.
  18. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Having moderated here for a couple of years, pissed a lot of people off and crossing people's paths who seemed beyond redemption, I fully appreciate this argument. As someone who has tried over the years to bring many people together here in real life, it's been an awkward line to walk at times.

    Never use the same name twice. Have no need or desire to establish myself as an internet 'brand', even as a commentator... and where possible, like to compartmentalise. You're not a Facebook friend of mine unless I've met you in person, not that I use it much these days. Not sure I want some of my LinkedIn contacts reading my posts here on MR either.
  19. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    This was exactly my argument when, sometime last year, Blizzard was planning to put real names on all the posts on their discussion forum. Clearly this was met with outrage and wound up never happening. My name is, I believe, unique on the Internet. Last I checked I was the only person on Facebook with my name, and plugging my name into Google will give you a host of things about me. This creates a pretty imbalanced system where some people remain largely anonymous and others essentially expose themselves completely when they use their real name.

    Now the real problem that arises here is the fact that using real names will not stop the trolls, miscreants and other ill-willed Internet denizens from browsing around and getting peeved about something I posted with my real name visible. With a nearly unique name, the barrier to entry for messing with me is extremely low—since my address and phone number are incredibly easily accessed if you have my name, the doors are open for nasty craigslist ads, someone ordering 25 pizzas to my house etc. Someone with an extremely common name would be shielded from this unless they chose to reveal a variety of more specific details as to their identity.
  20. Eldiablojoe macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2009
    West Koast
    Some folks are in lines of work where anonymity = safety. FWIW.
  21. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601


    Feb 27, 2005
    Interesting article.

    I think for most, privacy is already blown, with sites like FB and Twitter.
  22. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    I have never seen the point of FB or Twitter or any other social networking website. Rarely do I have news that I feel compelled to announce to the whole world. When I do, email works just fine. Besides, free use of FB or Twitter hardly seems to be a good value when you consider that they are making billions of dollars off everything you put on the website.

    When it comes to MR, my identity is only semi-private because I've been here so long and I have a link to my website in my signature. Since it's a site devoted to my family's history, there's even less opportunity to hide who I am.

    My local newspaper just switched to a FaceBook login for comments. Comments have plunged of course but the people who do comment are much more civil. I think a case could be made for local commenting to be under one's given name but global commenting, like here on MR under an alias.

    Over the last few years, I've begun to think more before I post an opinion on the internet. Part of it may be simply a matter of growing older, but part of it has to do with caution in regards to what the internet has become.
  23. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    They're extremely powerful tools for all sorts of purposes, especially on mobile devices and platforms. Friends of mine stayed in touch through the Christchurch earthquake using Facebook, posting updates and pictures to reassure all their friends they were doing OK, a far simpler process than hitting 'send' to a specified list of people. The other thing is that emails are a little more intrusive and usually demand a promptish reply or call to action, whereas a status update on Facebook doesn't. Facebook at its most basic can also be an excellent address/contacts book.

    The main reason I don't do Twitter and barely bother with Facebook these days isn't about not liking the platforms, it's more to do with digital sanity, as Shelley Hayduk puts it:

    If I'm on the Mac, I'm often doing something that needs full attention like designing... checking someone's tweet when I should be keeping an eye on what's overprinting and what is knocking out isn't helpful. So it's emails and phone calls that I also usually prefer, but Twitter and Facebook certainly have their place... just not for me right now.
  24. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    You've just highlighted the two things that attract me to and repel me from social media.

    There are times, especially with family, when it would be nice to make a global announcement. Especially in regards to genealogy. It would be easier and potentially more inclusive.

    However, as you point out, it's just one more layer of communication to deal with and inevitably, I would end up being forced to communicate with people I don't really want to communicate with. Which would suck up even more of my time and attention.

    IMO, facebook and all of social media is in its infancy. To be honest, I wouldn't mind paying a social media site if I had TOTAL control over my information. Until that happens, I will continue to be a luddite.
  25. quasinormal macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2007
    Sydney, Australia.
    Thread bump.

    This is a very interesting subject. I'd argue that anonymity on the web is an illusion. There will always be that IP log around somewhere.

    I'm all for disclosure of true identity on the web, that would include our real names and locations. I hope I don't seem crazy to suggest some sort of unbreakable electronic token that is permanently tied to our identity with DNA.

    Maybe I'm just getting old.

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