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dynamicduo's avatar

A Non-Anonymous Internet: What are the pros and cons?

Asked by dynamicduo (14352points) February 17th, 2009

How would the Internet change if there was no anonymity? How would your participation change? Would your outlook on the Internet as a whole change?

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that there is some central group responsible for the account creation and real life verification, and third party websites (let’s assume a Facebook, a Fluther, a YouTube, and a celebrity gossip website, amongst others) would only allow such verified accounts to participate. With one click, any similarly logged in user would be able to find your first and last names, your state and country, and your email address. Also assume, for the sake of this discussion, that your personal details would never be leaked (example: a verified user couldn’t make an external website listing off people’s names and email addresses).

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6 Answers

eambos's avatar

Pro: You know who wrote what.

Con: Everyone knows what you wrote.

Grisson's avatar

I would probably be as introverted on the net as I am in real life. I would not participate as much.

wundayatta's avatar

Actually, now that I think about it, it is possible to verify individuals, yet let them keep anonymity. It’s kind of like the way sites make you answer on your cell phone, or they send you a link to your email address in order to verify, only better. You could use something like public key encryption to assure anonymity.

Anyway, to answer this question, I think the cons would be an inability to dis-associate your comments from yourself. I, for example, would not be on fluther or anywhere other site that is more interesting if people say what they really do and feel. My personalities on social networking sites would become very bland. I would never talk about personal issues; or, if I did, only in the most general terms. I would never admit that my wife and I were in marriage therapy, or that I have bipolar disorder, or that I have a number of non-conventional points of view. Most of the posts that people have found honest and interesting would be gone.

Pros: well, it would be harder to hide, and harder to do anything antisocial, such as stalking, or preying on youngsters. Also, it would be harder for people to do things like put up illegal pornography or commit fraud. People could be trained not to do any interactions with anyone lacking an identification. It would also seem like a totalitarian kind of thing, with big brother watching all the time. Hey, big brother is watching (or, at least, it can watch if it chooses to).

Of course, there’s no system that is not subject to corruption.

funkdaddy's avatar

With a non-anonymous internet I think you would see an increase in stalking, preying on youngsters, and the other antisocial things daloon mentions simply because you could find whoever you were talking to. Right now if I want to track someone down it’s at least a couple of steps, and that’s if they have a lot of information online. Most people simply aren’t easily found with the information available.

If someone had your name and city, they could pretty much roll right over whenever they decided to. Suddenly that online flame war carries over into the real world when someone takes things a little too seriously.

You could say a benefit would be that people would be more careful with what they say, but that’s based on the assumption that people are thinking things through before acting. Which doesn’t seem to be a good bet.

syz's avatar

Um, I pretty much function under the assumption that the internet is not anonymous. I suspect that if someone truly wanted to track me down, they could. So I consciously restrict myself to doing, saying, and going to places that I wouldn’t mind anyone knowing about.

fireinthepriory's avatar

Honestly I think the biggest change is that there would be a lot less random douchebaggery. Stalking etc. is possible as it is if you’re committed enough, and if the perps could be easily traced maybe they’d be LESS likely to do such. Honesty and participation would also definitely decline along with the aforementioned douchebaggery. Accountability, you know?

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