Users will agree with moot that separate identities are better and safer, but this is not how the real FB/Google customers see it; advertisers and marketeers want to know that user-A is an engineer AND loves cooking AND has a pet AND goes on 4chan.org/tv, not just one OR the others.
That's why FB/Google try so hard to reconcile all your activities under one ID: to better represent the unique intersection of interests that will be resold to marketeers. Any feature they implement to "manage your faceted identity" will only give you an illusion of separation, and will inevitably link all your activities anyway, because that's necessary for their business model.
Note that this is not a rant (I use FB and G+ every day), I just think this point tends to be overlooked when talking about "social" websites, almost like it was not polite to point out where these businesses make their money.
An optimist would say that's exposed so you can wipe it clean, a pessimist would say that's exposed so you can refine your profile to be better advertised to.
Ad networks (like me!) use demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data to target most display ad campaigns. I have run campaigns specifically sold as "market to Nigerian immigrants living in America" or "moms 25-35 interested in beauty products." And even when not specifically targeting those audiences, one can often find surprising performance pockets from these audience intersections- good for my performance and useful info to bubble back up to the advertiser.
And... guess who's the current biggest display ad platform?
Not everyone in the world can be assured their human rights and exposing personal information can lead to persecution. Therefore, there is a risk attributed to this data collection, at least for some. Not everyone is willing or able to take these risks.
While I can agree that this data may be useful for both customer and advertiser, its potential misuse should not be ignored. And when these networks deny the use of pseudonyms, they force their users to take (unnecessary) risks.
On the flip side, that's a confounding factor that makes it hard to compare Facebook to Google in terms of some type of battle for advertising dollars. For the time being they should both see revenue growth, irregardless of who does a better job.
Google understands that ignoring competitors , even niche ones , can be a long term risk. So they work on controlling all the advertising market. I think that's also the biggest reason behind Android: google makes very little money with it. But it's a great defensive strategy.
Absolutely. That's the dishonest part about this conversation. G+ and FB make more money if you use your real name. Asking whether they are right or wrong about identity is allowing them to keep the conversation one step away from where it should be. G+ and FB use you real name. Fine. Here's the conversations that need to follow: 1) To what extent can they leverage that for profit? 2) Is this leading us to an internet that is non-anonymous by default, and do we want that?
Poole is right, but he's really just talking strategy. I do agree that G+ and FB are creating a vacuum to be filled with anonymous social services.
With multiple identities, on the other hand, I could have my real identity, with my real name, and then - for example - my hacker identity, or my secretly gay identity or whatever. With the guarantee that for other users there is absolutely no way to connect the dots if I don't want that myself, but with an easy to use interface that allows me to manage them all as seamlessly as possible.
I personally wouldn't mind if the provider was able to connect the dots and use that information for targeted advertising - as long as it doesn't sell my identity to the advertisers, only the target. And this could become a real differentiator from FB.
By the way, my wife already manages different identities by using different services (ie facebook and linkedin).
About resharing, of course if you use the same real name in both services that would't be different from circles - it would just make it much harder to reshare, but by no way impossible. That's not my wife's use case. But if you use different names, tracing you becomes pretty difficult.
facebook does not allow multiple accounts.
twitter doesn't have that many users.
People haven't put facebook and G+ through the same judgement as they have put the internet in general. They still look at it as a place were they can conveniently post personal information. But eventually they will.
An interesting phenomenon occurs among adult people that go through a serious relationship break up. Most go back to their private life and abandon their facebook activity for obvious reasons. So I would say, people will eventually care.
I am not sure that this is overlooked. I think most people know it is as so obviously true that it doesn't need restating anymore.
We present ourselves differently in different contexts,
and that's key to our creativity and self-expression.
"It's not 'who you share with,' it's 'who you share as,'"
Poole told us. "Identity is prismatic."
Where it becomes tricky is when one is strips away the context isolation. For example, at your friend's bachelor party, some behavior might perfectly normative within context and participants, but the next day when people outside of that context can watch a video of your behavior - you might feel a little shame/embarrassment/regret/etc.
The internet, for better or worse, allows a complete breakdown of context isolation. While the rules of posting on 4chan or HN greatly differ, a person adhering to rules of a given context, will still be judged across both contexts by outside viewers.
The solution here is to create context isolation - which is very easy to do with anonymity.
Not the best solution. I in fact has been saying the illusion that people are perfect is fundamentally flawed for a while now.
moot also made another very good point about total anonymity once before: the reason 4chan (and by extension, other image boards) became such a success is because there is no personal cost of failure, which allowed almost boundless creativity - which is why most of the internet knows 4chan mainly as a meme-generator.
But my point wasn't that "it's an original thought that he's had and no one has ever considered it before!" just "I was ignorant of this exact problem until it was pointed out to me. Then it became evident."
But, maybe I'm just reading that as a little more antagonistic than intended.
ShawnJG 1 minute ago | link [dead]
I agree completely. It does seem really obvious now. But anyone who's had a pre-Google/Facebook online life remembers that you had different handles for diff sites. My aol name was not the same as my underground name, wasn't the same as my regular email name. At first what seemed like a good idea, "mirroring" yourself online as Poole puts it became the bane of people who were diverse in their online dealings. But I look at Google and Facebook as the "establishment internet", there for the masses. And for most people that is fine, they rarely stray from these walled off gardens. But there are still options to be as diverse or "prisimatic" as you please if you look for them.
I like that Google+ made some efforts to let you keep those lives separate through Circles, which prompted Facebook to make their lists more prominent, but I still prefer to have multiple identities.
I acknowledge that with a little work you could probably connect all my identities together, but I'd rather not make it obvious to the casual observer. Let's keep honest people honest.
1. It seems similar or at least parallel to something I wrote about needing new metaphors for social networking: http://blog.byjoemoon.com/post/7072771434/a-new-metaphor-for...
2. We need our social networking software to give us better representations of social context, and good representations of that context through UI.
3. Maybe it's the case that the different services will evolve into different contexts, with a different service for every context? I.e. Twitter for shouting pithy aphorisms into the public void, G+ for conversing about nerdy stuff, HN for conversing about even nerdier stuff, LinkedIn for marketers to market to each other about marketing jobs, and FB for farming?
But today, the web has become so ubiquitous with the real world that I know I now have to play the game. It has taken me a long time to realize this, and I still don't feel comfortable with it.
Isn't this pretty much exactly what Google+ tries to reflect with circles? It almost sounds to me like the marketing speak they had going when the product first came out.
Besides, it's a very bad idea to leave identity management in the hands of a third party anyways, and the last third party I'd trust with my identities are Google and Facebook. Call me paranoid all you want, but identities are something you manage yourself - nobody should be trusted doing it for you.
"It took me four hours to pick my AOL screenname."
Same here. And I've been using it ever since. I'm not sure what, if anything, that says about me. But yeah, it's the name I've chosen to associate with.
And actually, my problem is different. I worry not about my past overlapping with my present, but my "real life" crashing into my digital one. While it certainly doesn't take much to piece together who I am, I do get oddly disconcerted by people who I grew up with who are only now getting online. I've mostly avoided it by not visiting Facebook anymore.
I like to compare the Internet to a swimming pool, only, it operates exactly the opposite as you'd expect. Normally adults would be wary of children getting into the deep end, as it's less safe. But on the Internet, not only are the younger ones far better swimmers who live in the deep end... The adults stay in the kiddie pool/inlet. One scary run-in with the deep end, and they never want to "swim" again.
I'm very curious about the effects this is having on society. I can't wait to see what parents and children are culturally like in twenty years. (Of course, who knows what'll be around then.)
Facebook has painted themselves into a corner, and Google isn't creative enough with their approach. Twitter is better, but only because they don't have the same policies and don't try to get in the way.
Most of the people leading major product decisions in this area either have very common names or are already famous. But for the rest of us, using our real name online means that anyone who meets us can discover our online identity with a google search.
When I "meet" someone online (such as reading a comment he/she wrote on HN) I really don't care what his/her real name is. I don't understand why Google cares.
There is a HUGE financial incentive to force people into using their real names.
"Financial incentive" is not, or rather, should not be a valid argument, ever. Especially not for infringing on fundamental principles of personal rights and liberties.
We (as in, the privacy/anonymity advocates) have always known that Google/Facebook wants to profit. What we question is why that is any justification for the shit they are pulling. Has capitalism really clouded most people's minds this much?
Besides, there have been non-intrusive ways to implement Like/+1 Buttons. heise.de for example did. You might remember what Facebook did - threaten to sue. With reasons that I cannot describe as anything but bullshit.
Heise.de only "fixed" generalized tracking, not the single-sign-on/unique-ID problem, which is the real root of the issue: as soon as a website, or Disqus, let you log on with your FB/G+ identity, you're back to square one.
If you've ever read the comments on news articles on Facebook (MSNBC/Breaking News/etc.), it's amazing the hateful, racist, bigoted shit people will post under their REAL NAMES. I can only imagine how bad it would be if people could choose to post anonymously.
Again, norms are determined by the group, just as they are in real life. There are some things I'd feel comfortable saying to a group of friends that I would never say to a stranger, and others that I could say to a group of strangers but never dream of saying to my friends. In this sense, moot is absolutely right.
You don't have to imagine the past very hard. Was it really that bad just a few years ago?
Mainstram media forums are full of idiotic posts because the mainstream is primarily composed of idiots.
I wouldn't say that the discussion there is that terrible (of course if you don't go to /b/, the "everything goes" board). Yes, for example for technology, /g/ board is unreadable, full of mindless hatred and the same type of discussions over and over (absolutely incomparable with Hacker News). The same for /v/. /int/ is just a shoutbox for racism and stereotypes. Really, the more popular boards are terrible. Poole sometimes seems to like it, trumping it as "raw uncensored opinion", but it's mostly just dumb.
However, I also visit /co/ board for cartoons and comics, and it is one of the best places to talk about these.
Doubly funny though, is how people there still use the name field, and rarely troll with it. The honor system largely works.
Besides, 4chan is a clusterfuck for other reasons; it's part of the culture of the place, and that even differs for each section. /lit/ is much more civilized than /b/, for example.
Also, pretty sure there hasn't been forced anonymous in years.
Anonymity (or at least, properly contextualized identity) allows people to try out different identities and modes of creation. Removing all social context results in a smoothed out, lowest-common-denominator of personality, but it's the jagged edges and oddities that really make people interesting - or ugly.
I've browsed 4chan every now and then during the last year I will totally disagree with you.
If anything, the post quality is deceiving, not immediately apparent. I couldn't understand at first, but then it became obvious.
99% of the posts are striped from any real content, they are irrelevant single words, offenses, f*ked up puctures, funny pictures, etc. But then, in 1% of the comments lies the real value of 4chan.
I've seen very insightful comments in there. Many topics that would be taboos on pretty much any other place on the internet are discussed there openly and with innovative views.
I'm not sure about the purpose of the huge amount of useless fluff, but if you want to get the real content you need acknowledge that crazy people will post tons of stupid things while serious discussions take place.
If you have a totally new way of looking at a subject, if you expose it to a place where your identity is valued, you will for sure get it damaged. So everybody refrains from posting potentially controversial opinions. Going the opposite direction and totally remove identity ties, will attract trolls, but you get the real stuff, what people really think, no bullshit, no political correctness.
That's the part that scares me the most. In a world where everything you say is directly associated with you and indexabke forever in a search engine, people will have every reason to fear stepping out of mainstream opinions. The majority will become more beige. The minority will become more extreme. There will be less in between.
I prefer my world more interesting.
I couldn't agree more. I've long since lost the ability to get offended by pretty much anything 4chan could throw at me, so I must be pretty biased at this point. My view, however, is that the trolling and gore are in essence just a filter for potential audiences. In the early days, not rarely would there be threads up posting gore with the explicit goal of getting rid of newbies. (The actual vocabulary associated with these subjects on 4chan is rather more crude and graphic, and I will not denigrate this discussion with voicing it aloud.)
By getting past the filter, ie. being able to scan boards and threads for relevant content and not getting too offended on the way, you will have proven to the collective consciousness your ability to partake in discussions of taboo matters and doing so with a certain degree of objectivity and an open mind. That's the point after which actual discussion can happen. Combined with anonymity and volatility of content, this quality makes /b/ not only a cesspool of humanity but a place where entirely new kinds of conversations can take place and new ideas be entertained.
To understand the essence of moot's argument of prismatic identity, I find a certain underlying understanding of the scene where he's coming from is also necessary. It's not often that I see this point discussed, but I think it's important. Thank you for bringing it up.
"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman
Depending on demographics, per capita voice minutes (though falling) are still 500-1000 per month; and you are spending maybe a 10th of that on video calls with family. Judged against 50+ years of heavy R&D and promotion of this communications medium, I'd have to call that failure.
On paper AOL looked great (at the time), but they'd made a grave conceptual error in their product design that eventually became apparent to all. Perhaps we're in the same early stage with regard to identity?
I'm not saying there isn't a business model for Poole's ideas, but execution will not be simple. Which shouldn't phase the HN crowd, as the rewards for doing it better and still meeting the needs of the users could be a large pay off.
This general "you're doing it wrong" thing reminds me of Jonathan Blow's comments on execution and Doom. It's easy to nitpick from afar, much hard to succeed. I know Poole has a successful community under his belt, but it's a community that's not exactly easy to generate a living from.
It's the former area that naturally tends towards large, unified networks worth billions though. Its understandable that Facebook prefers not to lose the factors that made it unique by permitting joke accounts and impostors and devils advocates and trolls, even if many people find them find entertaining. Not to mention all the other things that come with a truly liberal policy on identity (like hundreds of millions of autofriending spambots).
There's the rest of the Internet for that...
One point that stuck with me was talking about the trade effects on the pacific island nations. Nations without proper access to anything thanks to isolation. I remember listening to FOSS make the case the case that those islands should be using Linux and not windows.
I remember making the conjecture these people where basic users, without access to proper education, and needed a monolithic MS style set up to keep them afloat, also people often without internet access, or reliable power (or even drinking water ATM). The response back was a blunt "oh well bad luck for them, thats not our problem".
That was the first time I became aware FOSS being used as an economic weapon, and in such a way that could cause entire populations of people to suffer.
And why? it sure as hell wasn't about making the world a better place, they made that perfectly clear. No it was about making money for themselves by hurting other people.
> these people where basic users, without access to proper
> education, and needed a monolithic MS style set up to keep
> them afloat, also people often without internet access, or
> reliable power (or even drinking water ATM). The response
> back was a blunt "oh well bad luck for them, thats not our
Why would these nations need "a monolithic MS style set up to keep them afloat"? It seems to me to be the case that a properly tailored GNU/Linux distribution would be a more user-friendly first encounter with a computer than anything from the Windows family (see OLPC, for example), and then there's the whole added benefit of not running a nation on costly, proprietary infrastructure.
Regarding your second point, I get the impression that you're talking with FLOSS advocates. If that's the case, then it's hardly surprising that they are more interested in promoting free software than discussing other social issues.
I've always used my real name on everything I do since I got in trouble in high school for being part of a group prank under a pseudonym. My father told me that unless I want what I do to be associated with my real name, I just probably shouldn't do it. I've found those to be good words to live by. And if you've ever explored 4chan for even a minute you'll see why this is important, the anonymity there turns those people into, well, freaks. I think "real names" can be considered a product of evolution, they came about for a good reason.
Pseudonyms have been used all over the web from the very beginning. 4chan has problems because there is less accountability than other sites (like this one), not because they allow people to be anonymous.
Think about your job. Depending on your workplace, it could be a huge disadvantage to get found out as a geek. You could get overlooked for promotion because you "play with toys" or "spend a lot of time playing World of Warcraft". Being a geek probably doesn't affect your performance in the workplace but it could get you shunned by people with prejudices against that sort of thing. That's an innocent example, there are far more complex and difficult examples which you are ignoring. What about if you are gay but you want to keep it secret from your family or you are living in a country where it is dangerous to be openly homosexual. I could go on listing traits, vices and attributes that could cause people problems.
Saying that someone simply "shouldn't do it" dismisses the fact that some things people wish to keep secret are part of their true identity. Someone shouldn't be forced to hide their true identity but it is an unfortunate reality that in many cases you must in order to protect your career, your family and even yourself.
This sounds an awful lot like "if you aren't doing anything wrong then you don't have anything to hide" to me.
For what it's worth, while I absolutely love my civil liberties and freedoms, I do believe in accountability for one's actions. If I say something indefensible against a minority group, I believe that I should be ready to bear the consequences of my racism. I can either defend my actions with an intelligent argument or I can't. I shouldn't be able to just say "Oh. That was somebody else."
On the flip side, if I'm arguing for a controversial idea, then I will expect people to take the argument as insincere if I'm not willing to attach my name to it.
Anybody can say something anonymously, in the same way that anybody can pirate music. The people who are purposefully exercising civil disobedience are the ones I respect, whether or not I agree with their cause. That said, very few people actually practice civil disobedience. They download music and say 'Damn the man' wherever they can, but what actual GOOD does that do?
And just before anybody attacks me for trying to take away their right to privacy, I fully understand and support that it is our right, generally, and would never knowingly support/elect/fund or petition anyone trying to take that right away. But for me, personally, I think the bigger statement is always going to come from someone who is willing to risk their reputation to make a statement that's unpopular.
That pretty much means the same thing
Would it be worthwhile to have a service that managed all of your online identities? You could register multiple avatars/aliases and the service would create email addresses for each of them that could be used to sign up for different networks. Then all of those email notifications, etc. could be forwarded to one confidential email address at a domain that the user owns and registers with the service.
"Internet Service Providers have argued against being classified as a "common carrier" and, so far, have managed to do so."
ISPs are not common carriers, however the extent to which they are protected websites such as 4chan are also protected.
Insert Twitter, Google responses below.
This is the internet, so pastebin is as good as any other evidence:
Of course that doesn't say NSA but my tinfoil is strong.
Seriously, if you don't believe that these large social sites that popped out of nowhere with no obvious need and no chance of profitability haven't at least been very happily ushered along the path to success by an all-too-eager network of governments that give not two shits about their population for anything but their perverse amusement and enrichment, you're a complete moron and a prime example of why the founding fathers knew you can't trust the people to run a country. Because you're morons.
"it has brought bans and thread/post deletions on /b/ for anything except CSA trafficking to a screeching halt"
Is trivially false, and the statement:
"When I knew only guilty people used 4chan (and primarily /b/), knowledge of the ongoing sting operation wasn't terribly concerning to me. But now, 4chan is going completely mainstream."
Is absurd. Nobody with any sort of familiarity with the place years ago would ever believe "only guilty people used 4chan". That shit is and always has been the minority. Furthermore, anybody involved in such an operation would realize that "innocent mainstream" type people stumbling across that isn't going to get those people hauled into court.
No. That paste is a troll, and either you've been trolled, or you are a troll and I've been trolled.
Now, do I believe 4chan is cooperating with government investigations? Of course I do.. but that ain't evidence of it.