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Thread: Dangers of Anonymous Identities

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    117

    Default Dangers of Anonymous Identities

    My identity was recently stolen by someone on the Town Crier website. They registered my name and made at least one post that I view as incredibly defamatory. I am pursuing all possible forms of prosecution for this invasion of my privacy. I want to alert people to this danger - you could be next.

    The system that allows completely anonymous posts by registering a bogus email address is ripe for misuse. It allows one person to pose as many different people and to pose as people that they are not. It is very clear from some of the posts that one person has many screen names and uses them to support a point. This ruins any sense of open discussion.

    I would like to speak to the person who felt it was necessary to use my ID. I will pursue this in all ways possible but a simple discussion could head off embarrassment and prosecution.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default anonymity vs. misrepresented identity

    Ben,

    We've not met, but I want you to know that I share your outrage about someone's misrepresenting himself as you. Such an action is a falsehood that is beneath contempt, as well as a perversion of the notion of honest discourse.

    I don't object to someone's using an anonymous name, as long as he/she uses it consistently so that we can know that all the comments under that name are by the same person. But using multiple "handles", while not a theft of someone else's identity, also pollutes discussion by encouraging nasty comments and by creating a false impression of agreement among multiple parties.

    You were done a disservice, and I hope that the coward who pulled that stunt does not have the temerity to do it again.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 09-05-2008 at 08:41 AM. Reason: correction: word had been mistakenly omitted

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default

    Ben, I'd like to join in in condemning the act of cowardice of the Town Crier comment board ID stealer. I suspect that the vast majority of users of that site have not read the Terms of Use, which include: "You must use a consistent handle or account name for any submissions you make, and you may not submit content under another person's name."

    There is no honest debate when users are allowed to misrepresent their identity (either by using another person's name, or by creating multiple identities).

    I have grappled with the issue of identification on our Discussion Forum, because I want to encourage debate, and have long feared that requiring identification discourages some users. Now having seen the results of not requiring identification, I feel more strongly than ever that requiring identification is the right way to go.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 09-05-2008 at 10:01 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    275

    Default

    Seconded on all fronts. I am boycotting the use of the Town Crier's discussion boards because I deplore the anonymous nature of the forum. I expect not to agree with people, but I have been and always will be willing to put my name behind my opinion. Too often, people on both sides of arguments hide behind the mask and throw insulting barbs and bait people using that forum.

    Maybe this incident will force the Town Crier's ownership to, once and for all, put a foolproof sign-in method in place that will force people to reveal their true identities.

    Will others join me in this boycott? Maybe we can all agree on this?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    A full boycott isn't a bad idea (my having posted this similar petition and this listing of desired discussion board features), but I'm tempted to leave an "out" in order to respond to people who do post there with identity, and for whom I'm convinced of that identity. But only tempted--maybe I'll give it up completely, or post only links to answers here.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    275

    Default Another Example

    Posted yesterday by "HappyClay" on the Town Crier's website...

    Funny how when Jeff Baron and John Flaherty said they would stop posting on this site all of the posts went away. Hmm I wonder how many people were really posting here?

    My response...

    Per an e-mail sent to me by a neighbor below, I would like to know who handles removing posts like this and ask for that account and all others presently or applied for in the future to be banned due to a violation of the board rules, specifically that this post is threatening, abusive or disruptive to other users (including without limitation repetitive, meaningless messages, personal attacks, content constituting spam, etc.).

    As will be clear in your records, the accusation is untrue as I maintain only one username (my own) on your boards.


    Seems that even my personal boycott of this forum and its anonymity can't avoid getting an accusation thrown my way. Like Ben, I am pursuing the owner of the identity 'HappyClay' and will take appropriate action upon receipt of this information.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default

    Jeff, I'd be interested in hearing the Crier's response. To date, they have been reasonably good about deleting inappropriate posts, but have not shown willingness to otherwise enforce their policies.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    275

    Default

    I got a response from someone this morning that they are investigating the identity of the author and that when this person returns to the office tommorrow, they will let me know more.

    In the meantime, a "Lance Sterling" (another pseudonym) has posted:

    If you miss their fulminations, you can catch their acts on the WaylandeNews discussion site, where they're constrained to post under their own names

    The same request has been made to the Crier to identify this individual for insinuating the same lie that I post under different names and the same request to delete this account has been made. If "Lance" was so brave, he'd post here under his own name (maybe he does, but fears recrimination for being so bold while identified).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    275

    Default

    Just an update...HappyClay has been issued a written warning by Gatehouse Media and, according to an official there, will be banned from all usage of their boards upon another incident. Lance Sterling has also been identified by Gatehouse and, it appears, will receive the same treatment. I guess they are beginning to get serious about enforcing their own rules.

    BTW, I would reinforce that had either of these people been brave enough to use their real identities, I would have had no problem with their posts other than refuting their truth. It is the anonymity and accompanying cowardice that irks me.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    117

    Default Don't be too sure

    Jeff,

    That is the same thing they told me when I brought the issue to their attention. They also indicated that they could not be sure the email address they had was not a "mickey mouse" address. I am continuing to pursue the use of my identity by a false poster and have had to jump through hoops to get information out of CNC.

    Ben

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    275

    Default

    I hear you. But some action is better than none. I will continue, as I told the CNC person, to boycott their site until there is real attribution of names to posts. I will, however, press CNC to protect my reputation from anonymous assaults as well if the issue should ever come up again.

    The coda to all of this is how sad it is people feel the need to fire shots from behind trees instead of owning up to their opinions. If you feel free enough to say it, you should own up to it. If you don't want to own up to it, is was never worth saying it to begin with.

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