This Writer has had differences with Jess Phillips in the past but, as far as online anonymity is concerned, she’s absolutely right to want it ended.

My reasons aren’t the same as hers, though. Well, not exactly.

Ms Phillips’s call is based on her experience with online trolls who bombarded her with idle threats of rape, or said they “wouldn’t even” bother.

So she wants online organisations like Facebook and Twitter to refuse to allow online anonymity, to reduce harassment and other antisocial or criminal behaviour.

I would like online anonymity ended to stop people using pseudonymous accounts to make false accusations, thus bypassing the libel laws.

When the Campaign Against Antisemitism falsely accused me, several Twitter accounts leapt up to dogpile me, adding their contribution to efforts to blacken my name.

I know that one of those accounts, @gnasherjew, is operated by several different people, all of whom hide their identities because they are too cowardly to put their names to their false claims.

So, yes – let’s end the vicious abuse by these nameless cowards.

I even agree with the idea that people should have to provide their genuine identities to online organisations, but could remain anonymous to the public until and unless their behaviour crosses the line into harassment and defamation.

Of course, Facebook, Twitter and the like would have to make themselves more easily contactable, and I can foresee difficulties there.

And the benefits for those of us who deplore online abuse are clear: We will be able to find out, not only exactly who the abusers are – but in terms of political abuse, who they represent.

Those of us who support the Left – and particularly Jeremy Corbyn – will, I hope, find ourselves vindicated after years of pleading innocence.

One hopes not, but Ms Phillips – who has often accused Corbyn supporters of abuse – may find that harder to accept than the abuse itself.

Source: Labour MP calls for end to online anonymity after ‘600 rape threats’ | Society | The Guardian


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