Quoted: on anonymity, Facebook and more

“Zuckerberg’s totally wrong on anonymity being total cowardice. Anonymity is authenticity. It allows you to share in a completely unvarnished, raw way.”

Christopher Poole, a.k.a. Moot, founder of online bulletin board 4Chan, speaking at SXSW (South by Southwest Interactive) in Austin, Texas. In the privacy chapter of “The Facebook Effect,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told author David Kirkpatrick in an interview, “You have one identity. Having two identities for yourself is an example of lack of integrity.” That kind of thinking has given rise to, for example, the use of Facebook commenting on news sites and blogs (including the Mercury News), which requires commenters to be logged into their Facebook accounts. Slate’s Farhad Manjoo is all for it, saying anonymous comments and bad online behavior usually go hand in hand. (Although his readers rightly point out that — gasp — not all Facebook profiles are tied to real identities.) Others question whether Facebook commenting kills authenticity; at sites such as TechCrunch, some hateful commenting has been replaced by “warm fuzzies.” At the Huffington Post, Larry Magid writes that “it puts even more power in the hands of Facebook.” Meanwhile, today, hacker group Anonymous released e-mails that it claims shows that a Bank of America unit tried to hide information about foreclosures. The e-mails were reportedly leaked by a former BofA employee. Whistleblower site WikiLeaks had indicated it would be releasing internal BofA documents; according to the BBC, it’s unknown whether the documents released by Anonymous are connected.


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  • Jay Gischer

    It seems that many have difficulty with the difference between pseudonymity and anonymity. I think that pseudonymity is a vital tool, and that Zuckerberg is talking his book. Of course, so is Poole.

  • Nari Kannan

    This discussion is like arguing whether Red Wine is good for you! Of course, it is, as long as it is within limits. Chug a few bottles a day, everyday for a few months and you have other problems. Anonymity is OK for certain purposes but forums may be liable for what is said on their site, sooner or later. Unrestrained anonymity will just ensure that the forum is shut down sooner or later. Try it if you want!

  • Patrick

    “Moot” point. Anonymity was key for 4chan’s success and the opposite FB. However, in general anonymous forums quickly become ranting cesspools.

  • Markus Unread

    Christopher Poole must be disconnected from reality. 4Chan only has one or two decent threads. All the rest are, in fact, ranting cesspools. Look at the horror of comments after online news articles. Unbelievable.

  • Yosemite Semite

    Zuckerberg needs to catch up on his Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.

  • Ken Jacobsen

    The lack of an ability to maintain multiple identities causes me to use social networks less. My business contacts do not care that my baby took his first step. My sister does not care that I just closed a $1 million deal.