It happens every day. You surf over to YouTube to check out an interview with a politician or a new music video and then you get sucked into the abyss that is the comments section.
Users battle it out using the tools of the infamous Internet “troll”: offensive language, Internet speak, a poor grasp of the English language and, most importantly, an anonymous pseudonym. Not to mention the fact that these discussions (if you can call them that) are nearly always way, way, way off-topic. M
any people just ignore these inflammatory remarks, but some are sincerely hurt by the often misogynistic, homophobic and racist speech they see. In an effort to curb this, YouTube is planning on removing anonymity from its comments section. Upon commenting, a prompt will ask you for a full name, and even automatically link to your Google+ profile if you have one.
YouTube isn’t alone in this effort, as the New York state Senate is considering a bill which would ban all kinds of anonymous commenting online. Critics of this push for accountability contend that anonymity is one of the core qualities of the Internet, and without it we could lose vital energy and innovation.
What do you think? Is this incendiary commenting out of hand? Is it something we just have to accept? Would you comment online if you had to put your full name? Have you ever been on the giving or receiving end of one of these comment battles? Let us know. Leave a comment.
Parker Higgins, Spokesperson, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Andrew Rohm, Associate Professor of Marketing at Loyola Marymount University who teaches a specialist class in social media