Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Nov 2017 23:33 UTC
Internet & Networking

This week, representatives from Google, Facebook, and Twitter are appearing before House and Senate subcommittees to answer for their role in Russian manipulation during the 2016 election, and so far, the questioning has been brutal. Facebook has taken the bulk of the heat, being publicly called out by members of Congress for missing a wave of Russian activity until months after the election.

But one of the most interesting parts of yesterday's proceedings actually came after the big companies had left the room, and a national security researcher named Clint Watts took the floor. Watts is one of the most respected figures in the nascent field of social media manipulation - and when it came time to diagnose root of Russia's platform meddling, he put much of the blame on the decision to allow anonymous accounts. As long as Russian operatives can get on Twitter and Facebook without identifying themselves, Watts diagnosed, foreign actors will be able to quietly influence our politics.

I decided to keep this particular part of the hearings currently underway out of the previous item I posted because I feel it's too important not to be discussed on its own merit. The concept of anonymity online is a complex issue, and instinctively, I want to say it's one of the greatest things about the internet. What part of it are we willing to give up - assuming we still have it or parts of it to begin with - to prevent dictators like Putin from meddling with our elections?

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Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Thu 2nd Nov 2017 15:50 UTC
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Giving up anonymity solves nothing. It does not stop bullying. It does not stop harassment. It does not stop id theft. It does not stop crime. It does not stop anything. All of this continues to happen offline and has been happening since the dawn of humanity. You can legislate out human nature. The best way to address these types of problems is by changing the social mindset. It can be done but not until people are willing to physically engage in their communities and the world around them rather than glued to things like reality tv, gossip/"celebrity", social media, etc. Stop `liking` a picture of your "friends" food and actually go meet and share a meal with them. You know, participate in life.

As far as anonymity as it pertains to curtailing things like election meddling, propaganda, etc... People don't need their privacy or anonymity removed - two things which human beings *need* for mental & social health btw - they need to bare most of the responsibility for allowing these things to happen. People need to become more responsible and take initiative. They need to learn what it takes to become informed voters and informed people. People who believe everything they read on Facebook, or everything they hear from news channel X, etc. are just as much responsible for what happened as the Russians are.

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