Should Anonymous Comments Be Banned?

A bill in the state Senate would force commenters to use name when asked.

A bill in the New York State Senate could limit anonymous comments on websites.

The "Internet Protection Act" would require the web administrator of any New York-based site, including blogs, social networks, online publications and message boards, to "remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post," upon request.

Two of the bill's sponsors, Assemb. Dean Murray and Sen. Thomas O'Mara, say the goal is to fight cyberbullying.

What do you think? Does the right to express an opinion outweigh the rights of others not to feel abused?

Please tell us in the comments.

Will Schneider June 07, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I think this act is well-meaning, but doomed to failure. It's simply too hard to monitor the number of posts coming in to websites, and to filter anonymous comments would be not only a headache, but it would encourage more bullying. There is virtually no measure that can be put in place that can't be worked around if a poster is clever enough. This is evidenced by Hacktivist group Anonymous, who has continually evaded detection. To simply "remove any comments ... by an anonymous poster" does not solve the problem. No admin has that much dedication that he/she can remove posts as soon as they hit, and at that point, as soon as one person has seen it, the damage is done. I certainly understand the intent, as I'm sure numerous anonymous commentators on this very site perhaps do as well, but I think our Senators underestimate the amount of work that calls for.
Preliator June 07, 2012 at 03:20 PM
How about parents actually pay attention to what their kids are doing rather than having the nanny state do it for them.
Irina Richardson June 07, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Bullying is harassment and by electronic means, in New York State, is aggravated harassment. Either way, go to the police, file charges, and ask for the information to be subpoenaed from the website. In order to get a screen name, the website usually needs information. At the very least, the police will get an e-mail address and can follow up from there.
William Swiskey sr June 07, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I think it's a good idea as long as they exempt comments about politicans from the bill.
Tom June 07, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Banning anonymous online speech is the functional equivalent of mandating that those who speak on any issue in a public forum be required to present their drivers license before speaking. In short, it is unconstitutional.
Argile June 07, 2012 at 08:07 PM
There's good things and bad things about this. The good thing would be it would end that slander of trolls on the internet (Hazel and Hammer come to mind on these forums.) The bad thing is people aren't mature and evolved enough to accept your opinion if it differs from your's. People are sick and twisted enough that they'll stalk you, harrass you and potentially harm you.
Concerned June 07, 2012 at 08:33 PM
unconstitutional. some of the most infamous dissent phamphlets in the past were not identified with the author to insulate the author from reprisal. repressive forces exist in even free countries. all speech and expression must be protected.
Ralebird June 07, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I'd like to know who all the sponsors of this bill are and have them all asked if they have a problem with how their measure squares with the Constitution. I'm sure their responses would be entertaining.
Tom June 07, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Plus, I wonder what Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay would have to say if they were required to announce their names when they anonymously authored the Federalist Papers. History folks, history. The internet isn't anything new. It's just a new format for publishing ideas. Move on, nothing to see here...
Argile June 07, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Oh BTW, don't think for a minute that you can't be found just because you hide behind your computer. You'd be surprised to find out how much info you can get from just an IP address. ;)
Rick Hoyt June 08, 2012 at 03:10 AM
I Post With My Real Name, Because I Think It's Responsible, At This Point With The State Of The Country-I Will Speak My Mind, I Am Not Afraid Will Exercise My 1st. And 2nd Amendments, The 4Th. Is Also Being Trounced, Leave The Damn Internet For "We The People", It's The Most Honest Forum Available.Shoot Your Mass Media Machine-TV.I Also Don't Want The Control Freaks To Ban Anonymous Posting, Although There Is More Gravity When One Posts With Their Real Full Name.
GQuik June 08, 2012 at 03:18 AM
What would this do to Alchoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous' online forums?
Brendan J. O'Reilly (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Allen commented via Southampton Patch's Facebook page: "It is outrageous that any person can spew vile hateful lies anonymously online, defaming whoever they have a bone to pick with, and even cowardly attack business competitors with slanderous online entries."
Carole Campolo June 08, 2012 at 04:54 AM
I too post with my real name because I think it is cowardly to hide behind a false identity. But, I do understand why people choose to use their real names. Their employment status whether they work for government or a private company is a real reason not to use your real name in this age of "enlightenment," especially for conservatives. It is an outrageous government intrusion into free speech for NYS government, or any government to set terms on what is acceptable on the internet. Aside from clearly illegal items such as child porn, government and in particular members of New York State government who are some of the most corrupt and stupid elected officials on the planet should not be setting laws about speech. Moreover, for this bill to originate in the so-called Republican majority Senate is a disgrace to all freedom loving Americans. This is a very dangerous road for these clowns to travel down and all NYS residents should tell them NO in the loudest voice possible. Thiele? LaValle? Where do you stand on this nonsense? Let us know as an election is coming in the next few months.
Carole Campolo June 08, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Sorry. That should read, I understand why people choose not to use their real names.
Michael.Steinhardt June 08, 2012 at 11:32 AM
It always comes down to freedom of speech V Libelous or bullying behavior. Does any one wonder as i do ,can the government actually regulate this? Very tough question..
David Klopman June 08, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Not sure what the point of being anonymous online in blogs or posts like these accomplish for the poster. People read what you have to say, yet its alot easier to dismiss when you cant associate it with someone.
forward thinking June 08, 2012 at 01:24 PM
i have used this name when the "internet" was bulletin boards. and atari 400 ruled the “air ways”. and vic 10 was an infant. if it were to ban anonymous names is tantamount to invasion of “literary license” and besides it would be no fun. It allows a person’s true “colors” to show and stop a much need way to vent frustrations. How many proponents of pub real names would accept what your “friends” really thought of you and your “behind” closed door actions. Hmmmmmm .
We Heart Long Island June 08, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Yikes. That's when 1200 baud was fast and we paid for phone calls in minutes.
Allen Schneider June 08, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Allen commented via Southampton Patch's Facebook page: "It is outrageous that any person can spew vile hateful lies anonymously online, defaming whoever they have a bone to pick with, and even cowardly attack business competitors with slanderous online entries." This is a much bigger problem, many times businesses are being blackmailed and defamed anonymously online without any idea who is behind the attacks
Kieran Brew June 08, 2012 at 03:56 PM
I think if you're not willing to sign your name to something, you probably shouldn't say it. Old fashioned common sense, decency and good manners.
Frank T June 08, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Our founding fathers, Hamilton, Madison, Jay used pseudonyms when writing articles in newspapers. I wondered if there were discussions back then to ban anonymous comments?
pbug56 June 08, 2012 at 04:07 PM
I don't tend to say nasty things on line and I'm not a bully, but neither do I want potential employees to know about my personal opinions on various issues, and I don't want my house or family attached if I say something unpopular. I'd say that outside of criminal activity that names should never be revealed.
Brad Berthold June 08, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I write comments on articles in a NC paper. Commenters have to provide their internet addresses to the paper, but needn't have them appear in the online comments. I think that's a good way to handle it. Some crazies use their real names and write some of the most despicable comments. Many others, like me, use noms de plume. I get asked why. "So the torch and pitchfork, bible thumping redneck know- nothing crowd doesn't burn my house. Is that clear enough for ya, Bunky?" Public discourse, particularly comments by those in a minority, can be separated from bullying, which is a different problem. In the case of that particular paper, the vast majority of editorials, climate change denials, Obama bashing, etc. etc. put me in a (somewhat fearful) relatively small segment of its readership,as far as my views and politics are concerned. No lynchings lately in that conservative, backwater Southern town, but why take a chance? I appreciate the opportunity for the protection of anonymity. My moniker is well known, and often the subject of all manner of vitriol. Some interesting discussions result. The comments are the liveliest section of the paper's on-line edition, and the heart of true public discourse in the community. Otherwise, the low information types would see and hear nothing except the publisher's newspaper slanted diatribes, and hear Fox News, Hannity, Limbaugh et al 24/7 on the two radio stations he runs in town, having a virtual monopoly on local media.
Jacob Mintzer June 10, 2012 at 03:57 PM
You are right. While we are at it, we should ban Mark Twain's comments (not his real name). Dr. Seuss was a bad man and we shouldn't let our kids read his books (for not using his real name). If we talk to people online, they should have our real names, so they can find our address. I'm sure internet pedophiles will love that idea. Good thing people like us have common sense.
Supershafts.com June 13, 2012 at 05:22 AM
How about people using your business name ? that is far worse than posting anonymously.


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