Has anonymity poisoned the internet? There are plenty of legitimate reasons to want to hide your identity online. On the other hand, some abuse the freedom from consequences that anonymity brings to target, bully or harass others. Would making it compulsory to use our real names on the internet prevent such behavior?

Pseudonyms have a long and important tradition. Journalists and campaigners have written pseudonymously long before the Internet era in order to protect themselves and their families from persecution. The current anti-democracy government crackdown in Hong Kong should remind us that the risks are still real. Not everyone can safely express their opinions, sexuality, or beliefs publicly under their own names. Nicknames and pseudonyms enable, for example, vulnerable minorities to have an open exchange on the Internet without fear of consequences.

On the other hand, anonymity can also be used to harass and persecute. For example, politicians with a migrant background have to endure relentless barrages of racist hate and vitriol online. Many users like to hide in anonymity and behind the notion of “freedom of expression” to hurl the most disgusting abuse and threats of violence at others. Yet, when trolls are confronted face-to-face, they usually have little to say or else manage to express their criticism in a more civil manner. Would using our real names lead to better debates on the Internet?

Should we use our real names on the internet? Do we need Internet anonymity so that everyone can freely express his or her opinion? Or would debates be more civil if everyone were forced to stand behind his or her statements with their own names? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

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11 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    What books have you read? ,,1984” by George Orwell? Moderating your name and voice is useless.

  2. avatar

    Real names. Are we afraid of speaking?

  3. avatar
    EU Reform-Proactive

    I consider the “concealment” of one’s real name on the internet a peripheral issue & unimportant.

    Such practice is harmless & goes hand in hand with our freedom of speech but subject to respect civility. Pitty, Many moderators might lose their jobs- what would they do?


    Disturbing & much more urgent & serious is to legislate, then investigate, expose & prosecute the concealment of “irregular” earnings by individuals who wish they & their funny money remain hidden & anonymous.

    Hiding, disguising & using hot money, bribes and proceeds of crime for a lavish lifestyle or fund clandestine operations should receive priority. Not harmless kitchen talk. There are enough checks!

    Let’s support the shutting down of all tax havens! Please chew on that issue!

  4. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Should we use our real names on the internet?

    The infinitely terrifying issue in this question is, the fact it has to ask a so called ‘free’ people if they will accept being forced to drop their pseudonym. If you have to take this precaution in the first place, it means you ‘feel’ unsafe not having its protection. And quite rightly.

    Today, the threats against your thoughts if voiced for all to see, should another group want to practice previous illegalities, under the guise of advancement, you can be literally threatened with your life. As our MP’s in the UK tell us they are or have been suffering. Most of us do not have the funds for the kind of security, or that of the royals, paid for by tax payers, have. And as the murder rate, acid attacks, violence, rape, along with general brutality has reached the levels of the countries our immigrants flee from, we must do all we can to stay safe should you dare offer up an alternative, even though traditional, point of view.

    It appears our society is rapidly moving backwards to the days when all men had to carry weapons of some kind in order to protect their lives from those whose aim is to remove any acquired bauble you carry, as they are eaten up with jealousy at the knowledge you have them. Even more terrifying, many are eaten up with jealousy at the fact you have an ability to think in terms of aspiration. Which, if you pursue it by study or hard work, is then referred to as some kind of privilege. Followed by their right to take it from you. Even though, no matter what they follow on with, makes no difference to their life, as they are incapable of using to raise themselves above the level they started with.

    And it appears as if our leaders are likewise afflicted as they support so much of the rhetoric used to lower mankind to that identical base level.


  5. avatar

    If you are going to get revenge for what you write then do not use your real name!

    If there will be retaliation then do not use it, someone could get offended and that someone will want to take the law into their own hands.

    However there is massive protests in Bulgaria and the situation can get escalated. We need support from Europe.

  6. avatar

    In all honesty i think everyone should use their real name when doing debates or chatting on the internet..and if they are useing a pseudo name ..when in descussions facebook could add their real name for verification..that way i realy think people would be a lot more guarded about what they say and how they say it …for sure :D

  7. avatar

    People are mostly using their real names on Facebook and the tone of debate has not improved. :p

  8. avatar

    Lots of nice people just want to be able to write and discuss Harry Potter fanfiction without their employer being able to find out via Google that they think Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter make a cute couple. Or something similarly silly. Don’t let the trolls ruin it for the nice people…

  9. avatar

    NO! the fact the the EU suggests this is worrying. NO authority should mandate the end of anonymity online. That would be the route totalitarianisms and oppression. SHAME ON YOU FOR EVEN SUGGESTING IT!!!

  10. avatar

    Using your real name only means you’re a fool who loves being tracked and targeted for ads.
    “Oh but they do that anyway!”, and you’re an even bigger fool for making their job easier.

  11. avatar
    Jose Ole

    Twitter is full of real names and it’s a cesspool made up of toxic busybodies and virtue signaling companies; most normal people won’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. Get rid of comments sections like this, stop intertwining real life with internet life, and just take the social aspect of it out of the picture. Save that for chats and apps. Stop charging for data like it’s the old AOL per minute billing, stop emphasizing phones and dumbing down websites to be mobile friendly, and if someone says something rude or something that offends you, just write it off as they’re an asshole and move on with your life. The internet has pretty much gone to shit post 2010, so who really cares, the war is already lost. Welcome to cable tv 2.0.

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