The comment section on websites are funny places.
By funny, I mean occasionally they’re inhabited by people with keyboard cojones. Earlier this month Huffington Post decided to ban all anonymous comments because the trolling was getting out of hand. Although the details haven’t been made specific, by next month commenters will be required to identify themselves by name.
“Freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they’re saying and who are not hiding behind anonymity,” Huffington told the audience. “Maintaining a civil environment for real conversation and community has always been key to the Huffington Post.
“From day one, our comments were pre-moderated, and we invested in the most advanced moderation technology along with human moderators,” she said. “Now we want to go a step further to evolve our platform — which has always been about community and engagement — to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet.”
Huffington isn’t the only one fed up with comment section bullies.
New York lawmakers have proposed a ban on anonymous online comments. The law dubbed the Internet Protection Act (A.8688/S.6779) would require a web site administrator to pull down anonymous comments from sites, including “social networks, blogs forums, message boards or any other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.”
The bill states:
A web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate. All web site administrators shall have a contact number or e-mail address posted for such removal requests, clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted.
But of course the bill has its critics. There’s this freedom of speech issue people want to throw around. The thing about freedom of speech, is that it exists, but even assholes have the freedom. When does freedom of speech cross the line? Pretty much every day in the comment section of most news sites. The hate and vitriol is repugnant.
Sen. Thomas O’Mara is one of the backers of the bill and believes it can be used to end cyberbullying:
“Cyberbullying has become one of the great tragedies of the Internet age,” O’Mara said at a press conference. “Numerous national studies tell us that upwards of 40 percent of students have experienced some form of cyberbullying at least once, and they feel helpless in the face of it. Victims of anonymous cyberbullies need protection. We’re hopeful that this legislation can be helpful to the overall effort to deter and prevent anonymous criminals from hiding behind modern technology and using the Internet to bully, defame and harass their victims.”
The proposed law raises questions over privacy and security, as well. The bill would allow website owners access to private information, like a user’s home, e-mail and IP address.
A basic website can be operated by as little as one person. The bill would give that website administrator full access to private information, with no additional security provisions for users who would have to hand over their personal information.
Additionally, website administrators currently don’t have to disclose their identity to users and can pay to protect their personal information from the WHOIS registry. If the legislation is enacted, the personal information exchange would be a one-way street.
But are troll commenters cyberbullies or just cyberassholes?
I’m going to go with the latter.
People feel they can get away with saying whatever they want because they’re “anonymous” while sitting at home, in dirty underwear glaring at a computer monitor. Because that’s just the picture I have in my head of every last troll on the internet.
But I’m sure none of these types exist on Clutch? Right.