Debate: The Huffington Post is to ban anonymous comments. Is this a step in the right direction?

Share

 

What's going on?

The Huffington Post has announced plans to ban users from commenting anonymously on articles, with the change expected to be introduced next month.

Currently the site attracts 25,000 comments per hour with the majority of them left by users who choose not to give their own name.

Site founder Arianna Huffington explained the decision with reference to the increased aggressiveness of online trolls. "I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and not hiding behind anonymity."

Is this a good move?

Case for: Stops abuse

Do you think any of the people who abused Caroline Criado-Perez, Grace Dent, Caitlin Moran etc etc etc would have dared be so vile under their real identity? And do you think the racist/homophobic/abusive comments left under articles would be so prevalent if the option to hide behind a pseudonym was taken away? Certainly not. The land 'below the line' would be a more civil, more interesting place with anonymity stripped away. This is already the case for some websites - such as the Times, which only lets subscribers comment. Of course, people should still be able to be rude - but only as rude as you would be face to face.

Case against: Democratic

It tends to be article authors who worry about anonymity. Commenters fret less. This is because, when you remove the choice of anonymity, you move power towards the writer and away from the reader. Those in the privileged position 'above the line' then become something of a molly-coddled and protected species, spared the criticism (or praise) someone might not feel comfortable giving under their real name. The Huffington Post is taking a worrying step. At an extreme - say in China - anonymity online is a vital outlet for commenters who might reasonably fear repercussion for their views.

  • Get to the point

Anonymous comments should be banned

Read Next
 

Hollywood: Stop trying to make Superman cool. The world needs a boy scout in blue

Matthew Daly
A man enjoys the  

If you really want to legalise cannabis, then why on earth would you go and get high in a park?

Peter Reynolds
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders