The Art Of Community

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Rastin Mehr

Rastin Mehr

November 05 2011

4chan Founder: Facebook and Google Do Identity Wrong [VIDEO]

I am really starting to like the 4chan founder. He does a very good talk about the fact that neither facebook or g+ are doing a good job of handling online identities. In fact he praises Twitter for allowing people to have multiple accounts and pseudonyms which allow people to identify and share as who they want to be rather than the name that their parents gave them.

I agree in some context pseudonyms are not the best option. In fact we do use LinkedIn as a resource to learn more about one's identity, but do services such as g+ and facebook have to insist on people maintaining real identities?

What are your thoughts on this?

Robin Grant
Robin Grant
November 05 2011 Permalink
I opened four Google App accounts this week to (handle domain mail. docs etc) and was pleasantly surprised. I finally caught a glimpse of the bigger Google picture. With the app store, I was able to install several reasonably good free apps (like an accounting system, project management system & a few others) into my different Google app accounts. So suddenly I had a menu on the top of my window with my Google+, Mail, Docs, Calendar, Accounting plus a whole host of other apps, all tightly integrated with the Google eco system.

In this context it became obvious why Google don't want anonymity on their network. Google+ is not a social network in the Facebook sense. And Facebook will never be able to catch up with what they have so stealthily achieved. Facebook will forever remain a playground while Google becomes  the defacto online network for business  with a strong social networking context woven into its fabric.

With Google+ social networking is put back into context. With Facebook we have the activity stream as the central component, while with Google+ it remains just a component in the ecosystesm. 

In my experience most social networking platforms have tried to emulate Facebook to a degree. But this week it became clear that Google have been truly innovative with their approach.

In a sense Twitter and Facebook (and 4Chan for that matter) are much more politically orientated, and in that context, pseudonyms remain an important tool for free expression without persecution. With Google, and LinkedIn however, being business orientated systems, there can actually be very little good reason for someone to be anonymous, unless they are publicly known by their pseudonym.
Andy Nash
Andy Nash
November 05 2011 Permalink
I haven't had a chance to view the video as I am on my phone, but I was thinking about this and came to the conclusion that it is probably impossible for any single provider to satisfy everyone. I have no need for pseudonyms or games, but I am sure other people do. Perhaps they have no need for circles, or don't use Google Apps.

The points Robin makes are part of it, and I think that if people are unhappy about the way one network handles it, they should go to another one (or start their own). It would be awful if one network was able to become all things to all people and dominate anyway.

I suspect in the future we will all have our preferred network, Apis will make it less of an issue being on a different network to someone else you know, and many people will continue to be present on more than one.

As a result, Apis and other data exchange wil become more and more important (as well as the strategy networks adopt in implementing these, ie getting as much benefit as possible while not giving away the family silver...).
Aleks Blumentals
Aleks Blumentals
November 05 2011 Permalink
You see me now...I show my tru face LOL

Just to see how this feels... make it so for this discussion at least

I have defended before the importance of real identities. I am basically of the same opinion as Andy - not much use for anonymity, but think in many other cases it makes a whole lot of sense.

But I watched the video and found the young man intriguing - I have little interest in 4chan, but the man made an impression on me.

I think the question underlying the anonymity issue goes back to what is its symbolic meaning. Anonymity exists and is used in many instances. For example, we know that experts sharing opinions do a better job when they don't know whose opinions these are. And there are tons of cases like that.

People at certain times flock to places where they can be anonymous - this has been the attraction of many cities. Quite possibly inflow of new anonymous people to cities is the very life blood of creative potential - the stress of the established order, the conformist, the politically correct; and the chaotic, disorderly, free, the force creating new connections and embodying the repressed emotions - squatters of all sorts, etc.

On the Internet it is not so different - Facebook is the polite and correct that excludes a lot of emotional expression - a about likes. The anonymous (Faceless-non-book)spaces offer a space of equality where different factors can co-mingle without prejudice.

If the interaction of any site is about any sort of objective content like riding bikes, or walking on trails, or doing business...quite possibly there is not much need to dissolve difficult situations, and so require less or no anonymity.

But take a power situation within an established organisation, where weaker voices may hold important answers but are heard through prejudiced filters (e.g. the opinions of subsidiaries, minorities, young employees, customers... vs people who are 'experienced' ).

In any group of 'experts' this sort of situation arises - seniority, gender, origin, connections, even a simple doctor's coat, all sorts of things ...prejudice perception, listening, attention, respect, empathy....

Yet anonymity does not necessarily has to be purely negative cover up, to allow mischief. One could be known to be a member of a group that shares a purpose, yet benefit from a non-descript identity to interact more freely, in a situation when this is necessary - new products, reflection of how well the business is doing, how the customers see us from the outside, etc.

What Moot (Christopher Poole, if that is his name) says is really worth pondering. Not about circles, but roles we each take within any given circle...
I thought I'd share this article: Surprisingly Good Evidence That Real Name Policies Fail To Improve Comments

Looks like improving comments goes back to good community management and has little to do with having a real name policy.
Jennifer Tibbo
Jennifer Tibbo
July 31 2012 Permalink
Thank you for this information. I wanted to offer anonymity to Muslim women but not to the rest of the community, which would have segregated them even more. I'll be happy to change the name policy now. Thanks!
Yes I think if anonymity is offered as an option, then it is fair for everyone to have that option.

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