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Anonymous Posts and Trolls

August 28, 2010

I wrote a while ago about the experiment that Blizzard was undertaking into forcing users to use set non-anonymous addresses on the forums.  I though it was going to be interesting to see what happened to such a rich online forum when anonymous posting had gone – more activity?  less activity?  more trolls?  less trolls?  Sadly we’re not going to know, as they pulled the plan:

Blizzard did not make many friends with its recent decision to force users to post with their real names in its official forums. The response was immediate and deafening, with pages and pages of users complaining bitterly about the new rule. One Blizzard employee posted his own name to prove the system’s safety only to have his personal information, including address and phone number, posted on the forum. The company listened to the feedback, and is now reversing course.

“We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums,” Mike Morhaime, the CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, wrote. “As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.”

However, the anonymity debate itself is still going strong…

A law suit filed last week in New York has threatened to hold some of the internet’s more unpleasant denizens to account: a rare example of old media rules starting to be applied online.

The heroine of the tale is Carla Franklin, a former model and graduate of Columbia Business School. She is taking Google to court over anonymous comments that called her a “whore” on the firm’s YouTube website. She is seeking a court order to force Google to identify the person behind the insult. According to her lawyer, Franklin already suspects a certain individual of posting the comments, but needs concrete confirmation before she can go after them in a court of law. She is claiming the insult, which was posted several times by the same YouTube user, was “… made with the intention to harm Ms Franklin’s reputation and interfere with her relationships, employment and livelihood”.

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