Anonymous internet vs ID on social media

There’s an increased discourse about ID for social media vs the right to anonymity

A 2-tier solution
:red_car: Internet superhighway driving license
:male_detective:t2: No need for ID on back roads

Choose to abide by rules of common decency OR opt out.


Someone made a good point where, honestly, a lot of racism and all this kind of propaganda festers around on Facebook - where they’re already pretty anal about using real names and all that. I’m sure ID would do a little bit to enable more consequences for this sort of thing, but I don’t think it would that meaningfully address the problems, tbh


Mandatory ID would probably lead to even more doxxing of people when the real problem is that the social media corporations themselves have shitty moderation policies and no incentive to create platforms that are well moderated.


By doxxing, do you mean things like estate agents trending because their employee sent racist abuse or people having their personal information disseminated because they’re “woke”?

There’s quite a big difference between between being publicly shamed, held accountable or being harassed by trolls.

No I don’t think verifying Id to open Twitter accounts is a good idea


What happens with business accounts under compulsory ID?

One of the big disconnects is the police don’t seem to have access for prove the person on Facebook is who they say they are. My harasser has several accounts (mostly his real name but a few aliases and clearly fake names) and the police couldn’t confirm it was him posting until he confessed to it. Same with the text messages. Because these were malicious communications (which he’s been charged with) rather than a hate crime, it’s quite different to the reasons this is being debated but having a community resolution in place does help a bit - especially if he breaches it again then things escalate.

There are a lot of easy ways of getting an anonymous Facebook account if you choose to do so - hence a lot of the bots and aggressive sorts. And countless examples of women being abused on Instagram.

Mandatory internet ID will not stop people from being racists or even contribute in any meaningful way to the decolonisation of society or to the dismantling of historical and instutional racism, including in Govt., in the Police and at the tech companies themselves


I’m not suggesting mandatory ID. I think an opt-in, to opt out of chaos approach is best. Set some standards as a default.

And obviously I say this as someone who runs a forum which at times in the early days has been as free an unmoderated as 4Chan.

Mandatory ID is a dreadful idea pushed by the powerful and the authoritarian.

Vulnerable people, whistleblowers, people who don’t like the idea of tabloid journalists rummaging through their bins or journalists campaigning to get them sacked for expressing anti-government views will all be frightened into silence.

Facebook is not anonymous, the press isn’t anonymous and broadcast media isn’t anonymous. These are the main drivers of hate and bullying, and the normalisation of racism in the public discourse.


You’d have assigned people to businesses. You can already publicly show which individual runs a Facebook page if you so wish.

Remember when all those ‘Labour activists’ were doxxed and their employers contacted by the right-wing press for things like appearing in the audience of Question Time? This is the kind of thing that will become normal if you make ID mandatory on social media.

There is no need for this government to have troops of Brownshirts when the press act as their authoritarian thugs enforcing which opinions are allowed to be expressed on public platforms.


Like, only this week we’ve seen Stephen Pollard contact the employer of someone and try to get them sacked for saying (demonstably true) things about him that he knew he had no legal basis to challenge.

There’s a huge structural power imbalance and platform imbalance already. Journalists, politicians and the wealthy can already shut down much criticism and enforce an omerta on many subjects. mandatory ID would make this even more stark.

How come?

I’d often appreciate the ability to filter out anonymous replies - especially when I was working for the BBC and it was endless people using fake names being racists or even abusing “the intern” who runs the account.

I had to go in and read a lot of really nasty stuff, especially during the pandemic with angry deniers and lockdown sceptics, which I would have preferred to have avoided whilst grieving the loss of my Nan and dealing with what I think was long Covid. That moderation process exposes people to a lot that the world would be no worse off not seeing to the fore.

Even the comments under Mings’ reply to Priti is full of racism and whataboutery regarding BLM from “people” with 7788993344 after their name.

Wouldn’t GDPR / data protection laws prevent that information being public?

There’s a difference between pseudonyms and bots though. A social media platform that takes itself seriously should be able to distinguish between the two and remove the latter.

Just like the law prevented the tabloid press from hacking people’s phones?

I don’t think you realise just how amoral (and even flat out immoral) our press is.


I am well aware.

A filthy sewer system doesn’t prevent us improving the water supply. It’s all linked and we shouldn’t avoid fixing one thing just because something else is so broken.

To use your analogy, mandatory ID would directly hook up the sewer to the water supply.

Nice in theory, absolutely terrible in practice.

You’d need a centralised database that social media companies could access to verify someone’s ID. That would be difficult to set up in one country, almost impossible for every country.

You’d also need to ensure that you’re not excluding any group or individual people. Centralised IDs tend to have a cost attached - driving licence, passport etc. By requiring proof of ID, you’d be limiting access to wealthier individuals only.

Giving social media companies any kind of access to real identities becomes a massive data protection and human rights issue. The opportunity for details to leak or just be publicly available becomes overwhelming.

The better argument would be to rethink how social media works. Move it from being something where engagement is the primary metric, a metric that can be gamed by making people angry and frustrated.

1 Like