Author: sarahwornow7

All Anonymous Posting and Commenting on the Internet Should be Banned


PRO (4 arguments)

Definitions:

  1. Anonymous posting: Writing information with a social media account that is not backed by an identifiable and verified name and address.

  2. The Internet: Chat groups, social media and instant messaging services

Weighing Mechanism: Whichever side shows the greater social good.

1. There will be less potential for abuse and slander.
Warrant:

People will be nicer and mean less harm when they know that whatever they comment or post can be traced back to them. If the fact that when everything is anonymous with NO consequences attached proceeds to stand true, then even more harmful acts such as slander and cyber bullying will unfortunately continue. 

The Cyberbullying Research Center stated that a staggering 95% of all teens surveyed use the Internet on a regular basis and that a still shocking 80% had and used social media platforms. Out of all those teenagers, 43% have experienced some sort of cyberbullying {including mean posts and comments} in the past year. When anonymous posting and commenting on the Internet is banned, then hopefully this SAD and UNNECESSARY statistic will be drastically reduced. Additionally, a survey by I-Safe Incorporated found that 58% of children reported that someone had said or done something hurtful to them ONLINE. Most likely if these bullies knew that they could be caught and punished for hurting someone online then they would have never stopped to do this in the first place. Also, the “Bullying Statistics” research team has found that in the United States of America 1 in 4 teens are cyber bullied on a regular basis. How does this pertain to the topic? Because empirically, banning anonymity reduces cyberbullying. According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, in the six months following the banning of anonymous posts in South Kor  ea, cyber abuse decreased by 20%. This clearly shows that after the banning of anonymity, cyberbullying was reduced by 20%.

Impact:

Overall if we choose to do the just thing and ban all anonymous posting and commenting on the Internet, then cyber bullies will soon start to decrease in numbers because they will know that their actions can be linked back to them. Banning anonymous posting and commenting on the Internet is CRUCIAL because children will in total be happier. With no damaged and harmful cyber bullies, as well as broken and hurt victims, the world outside of the Internet and among it will be a better, cleaner, safer place. With cyber bullying being extremely closely linked to behavioral problems, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. In fact, bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide. It is imperative that we hold people accountable for their actions so that cyberbullying is reduced.

Sources:

The Washington Post

2. Anonymous postings with no accountability weakens the power of the Internet as a reputable source for information.
Warrant:

The ability of the Internet to allow anonymous postings is its weakness.  Some may argue that denying Internet users the ability to post anonymously is a breach of their privacy and freedom of expression. But until the age of the Internet, anonymity was a rare thing.  When someone spoke in public, his audience would naturally be able to see who was talking.  Internet companies realize that anonymous postings hurt the public’s trust in their companies and these companies are taking measures to hold their users accountable for their postings. For example, Facebook designed a  public commenting widget, to try to replicate real-world social norms by emphasizing the human qualities of conversation. People’s faces, real names and brief biographies are placed next to their public comments, to establish a baseline of responsibility. Similarly, the international news agency Reuters, announced that it would start to block anonymous comments and require users to register with their names and e-mail addresses in an effort to curb “uncivil behavior.”

Impact:

Because anybody can post online, it will become very difficult to learn about different topics through the Internet. We should try to hold people accountable for their actions so that information on the Internet is correct.

Sources:

New York Times

3. People who post anonymously to the Internet can suffer from a psychiatric condition called Online Disinhibition Effect.
Warrant:

When posting online, some people feel free of the normal social inhibitions that help to preserve their reputation in their social communities.  Freed from normal accountability in what they say, encourages them to post  hurtful, ignorant  or embarrassing remarks that they would never say in person because these remarks would damage their reputation.   

Impact:

Internet anonymity leads to a condition called “online disinhibition effect.” The online disinhibition effect is a loosening or complete abandonment of social restrictions and inhibitions that would otherwise be present in normal face-to-face interaction during interactions with others on the Internet. It’s a negative side-effect of communication between ourselves and our computers.  Online Disinhibition Effect is seen by the psychiatric community as behavior that is characterized “by an apparent reduction in concerns for self-preservation and the judgment of others.”

Sources:

John Grohol, a psychologist

4. Banning anonymity will greatly restrict the illegal drug trade.
Warrant:

Anonymous forums serve as safe havens for drug trafficking. This is because most narcotics are only sold through secret chat groups where the dealers know they cannot be found. As a result, most of the illegal drug trade happens on websites that protect user anonymity at the cost of the selling and transporting of narcotics.

According to The Guardian, the illegal anonymous drug market, the Silk Road, has sold over $1.7 million of drugs per month. These transactions are generally done by drug cartels and gangs who generally get their money through extortion. Thus, by eliminating anonymous posting, we reduce the likelihood people can use these illegal chat forums, and more importantly, we allow law enforcement to be able to track down those who use these forums. According to Brian Doherty of the University of Florida, after other nations began to eliminate the promise of anonymity for online forums, the illegal drug market saw a drastic reduction in drug transactions. Doherty writes that “due to a few countries taking a stand by banning anonymous posts, we have seen a dramatic crackdown on illegal drug trade, which has positively benefited the whole international community.


CON (3 arguments)

1. Removing anonymous posting and commenting damages the right to free speech.
Warrant:

People are only truly free to say what they wish when they do not have to worry about being personally persecuted, either by peers, strangers, or their government, for what they are saying. Removing the right to post anonymously increases the pressures people feel to post in a particular way, and thus limits the extent to which they can speak freely. A study done by Auburn university found that 89% of anonymous posters would not post if they had to reveal their real names. This is a significant loss to people’s freedom of speech. According to a study done by the University of Arizona, “Anonymity purportedly minimizes status differences, liberates team members from a fear of retribution, and makes members feel more comfortable contributing to discussions.” 50% of the people in a Livefyre study who have commented anonymously said that it was for politics. Many people have been persecuted because of their views, beliefs, or characteristics about them. “News reports of cyber bullying, gang violence, criminal activity, and suicide fueled by social media is shocking and troubling,” says the Citizens Crime Commision of New York. In an online provoked fight over pictures or comments, people are unlikely to back down because of the large audience. “Posts have led to people getting hurt [and] killed.” Violence is an unavoidable consequence of having a differing opinion, and often the only way for one to exercise their freedom of speech is to post anonymously online, connecting to our first point.

Impact:

With 89% of anonymous posters feeling provoked of their freedom of speech we can see huge limitations on the which could lead to them feeling as though they cannot speak. This idea of limiting speech through fear of the consequences is highly dangerous in limiting our rights. The Constitution is the basis of our entire American government and a unique document that distinguishes the United States as a leader of human rights. By openly violating our freedom of speech, we would be allowing the rest of the Constitution to be violated, which would have many negative effects. Humanity progresses through differing or new ideas; if one makes an idea, and people personally critique or question it because the poster’s name is online, the creator will stop there and not feel the need to innovate or make anything better. If people don't feel welcome to share their opinions, productivity would decrease on the internet.

Sources:

The New York Times

2. Banning anonymous posting and commenting would violate our right to privacy.
Warrant:

Privacy is a basic human right. The internet is not an exception to this. People should be able to comment without giving away any personal information, because they have a right to keep that information private. Z posting is the reason people can do this, and it is important to make sure people have access to this. Taking away anonymous posting would be taking away their privacy.

A bill introduced by Tom O’mara, a New York state senator, in 2012,

“A web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate. All web site administrators shall have a contact number or e-mail address posted for such removal requests, clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted.”

This bill did not pass due to its invasive nature. But the truth is, this would be necessary to get rid of all anonymous posting and fake internet identities. The whole concept puts people at risk for identity theft and loss of privacy as they are forced to relieve information any time they post online. In an age where posting this information online can affect future future hiring and college acceptances, keeping your private life private is an important part of future success. Without anonymous posting, this is impossible.

Impact:

If anonymous posting were banned, and a bill similar to O’Mara’s was passed, much of the online commenting, all of the anonymous commenting, and people’s privacy would be gone.

Sources:

The New York State Assembly

3. Stopping anonymity online does not meaningfully prevent bullying. In fact, it may increase the amount of bullying.
Warrant:

Internet anonymity is not essentially to bullying: it can be done through a nearly infinite number of media. Importantly, it is not even essential to anonymous bullying. For example, it is quite simple to send anonymous text messages: all that is required is access to a phone that the victim does not have the number of. It is similarly easy to simply write notes or letters, and leave them in places where the victim will find them. Anonymous posting on the internet is far from the only place where these kinds of anonymous attacks are possible. Some people choose to come out or express their identity anonymously to prevent people from knowing who they are to prevent them from getting bullied.

Impact:

All this policy does is shifts the bullying into areas where they may be more difficult to monitor. Rather than sending messages online that can be, albeit with some difficulty, traced back to the perpetrator, or at least used as some kind of evidence, bullies are likely to return to covert classroom bullying that can be much more difficult to identify

Sources:

New York Times