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Forum on online anonymity coming up

Given the sort of thing that's been happening even here in our quiet little cubbie of the universe, you might be interested in a Ford Hall Forum discussion next week on Vicious Anonymity.

Arthur Chu, a blogger at the Daily Beast and Slate, Jason Tuohey, BostonGlobe.com's editor and Sarah Sobieraj, a professor at Tufts and co-author of The Outrage Industry, will ponder questions such as:

Nearly all internet comments are allowed to be anonymous but many people regularly take advantage of that with shockingly abusive comments. Does the American public deserve online privacy? Does the current environment have a chilling effect on others’ freedom of speech? Can journalists be expected to take this abuse as part of their jobs, day in and day out? And short of compulsory identity verification, is there something we can do to mitigate the ill effects of this sociological phenomenon?

It's 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at Suffolk University's C. Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple St. on Beacon Hill. Registration is free. I'll be there - I'm the moderator.

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Comments

My Guy Fawkes mask just came back from the cleaners.

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Sounds like an interesting discussion. It's Thursday.. I thought it was tonight.

I might go.. just to poke adam would be fun. But the discussion is interesting.. I've noticed this phenomenon myself. I've been online for 23 years now and have slowly watched this 'thing' progress.

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because I'm printing posters about the Kenyan president hiring Marsha Coakley to allow Illegals to claim that they had their hands up don't shoot any fake indians at the Indiana pizza parlor where Kennedy killed that girl while watching MSNBC because of Christian prosecution after nuking Iran.

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EBT.

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Who is Marsha Coakley, and why should we care about her new job?

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Evil Twin of Martha, except they are one and the same in this universe.

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You encapsulated almost all internet news comments in a single sentence.

Brilliant!

Wait, the phrase "Faux News" is missing, but "watching MSNBC" will be a very close substitute.

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Will you be riding your bike there? Avoid all of the MVs parked in the bike lane!

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haven't bought it yet. This weather is killing me..

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I had head tube gussets added to my cheap mountain bike and a battering ram added. Bar pads are next. A price for motorist convenience will be levied.

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At least on the larger websites that have revenue from page clicks. What better way to drive page clicks than all out war in the comment section over Sarah Palin, EBT cards or gay marriage?

Head over to any big media website and the pages getting the most traction are the socially divisive ones. If websites remove the anonymity, that revenue stream all ends.

Anonymity is not changing any time soon.

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Lots of places that used to have anonymous comments have now switched to Facebook comments or disabled commenting altogether.

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I just want to if there'll be a guy who posts Photoshops of Elizabeth Warren wearing an Indian headdress, comparing his work to Publius and the Federalist Papers.

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Thanks for posting Adam--I might go! I'm interested to hear the panelists' views on some of these questions and online anonymity as a social phenomenon (warning: sociology nerd here). I guess I never thought of the broader implications for online privacy either. Should be interesting.

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If there's one thing I've learned from Facebook etc. is that even if someone attaches their real identity to it, internet comments will continue to be just as dumb, racist, abusive or flat out head-scratching.

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And the sad part is, most people have no clue just how stupid they appear.

You all have seen them. The friend or relative that will post any article as fact, without so much as a simple google search to prove otherwise. Its on the internet so it must be true.

I have seen people argue over Onion stories without any clue that The Onion is a parody website.

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Yes! I've had people argue over ChristWire or Dogwoodpost stories. I had to finally chime and say "it's satire"

Still didn't stop people from arguing about it..

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The sad part is the Onion the past few years has been more accurate than real news.

Parody has become reality in our crazy world.

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It is astonishing.

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My sense with Facebook is that the people that post abuse comments via Facebook are not in the labor force. Either they are college age or lower, or retired. In the case of the college kids and younger they just have no sense of how this stuff can bite them in the ass. And retired folks don't care anymore.

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from our armchair/bed/basement etc.?

Oh, so that's what you look like, Adam.

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if Uhubbers show up. Then we all can spend the entire panel wondering which one is Swirly.

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Just write a joke on a paper airplane, toss it, and watch to see whose head it flies over.

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that's too funny

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Here's a recent picture to help you out:

IMAGE(http://thumbs1.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mPBLwVN37tEgDDmiZj6domA.jpg)

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I love what you've done with your hair, Swirly. Orange is a good look on you.

This is my recent photo. I got all gussied up for this photo, I even shine:

IMAGE(http://i58.tinypic.com/w84x7m.jpg)

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The only disturbing thing with this story is that question.

If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. And abuse is very much a two way thing. As for the current difference between an 'anonymous coward' and someone who has set up an account, generally not using their real names, or providing any info on where they work, live, a bio, etc., well, there is really no difference. One of the exceptions on Uhub is Will LaTulippe, but most others who rage against anonymous cowards are themselves anonymous, regardless of the fact they set up an account and post logged on with their nom de plume.

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Swirly is as anonymous as Will is. Just because the person posting as Will says they're Will, you have no proof that this is the case unless you've run into Will in real life and asked him if that's him posting on UHub or not. Furthermore, Swirly isn't as anonymous as you are. Only she can log into her account (assuming it's not 20 people sharing an account given the stylistic similarities among her posts over time). So, in so much as this is a community of logged in commenters, frequent readers will learn what frequent commenters' online personas are. You may not know her name, but you certainly know her view on the news here.

Whereas, we come to you, dear "anon (not verified)". You are truly anonymous to anyone but Adam (who probably has the ability to look you up by IP and see if you have any pattern). Your comments are dozens of people all using the same fully default name. It's vastly more anonymous (and forgettable) than Kaz, Swirly, Michael, or even Markk.

So, there are huge differences in anonymity even within UHub.

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While Uhub may not be able to determine the identity of its users, if there is a compelling need, those identities can be determined.
Every website you visit is logged by your ISP. Your ISP knows exactly which IP Address your computer/account has been assigned. When the police come calling, your ISP will turn over your account billing information (Name, address) without a fight.

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That's why I have a VPN and only connect to UHub through Tor. I don't want to ever face the frontier justice of Will LaTulippe.

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Has anyone here followed the "Assholster" (yeah, I know) business these past two weeks, since he screwed up & used his "legit" account at Wonkette?

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.... though doxing him is not really going to do squat. It's not like he could be shamed IRL into good online behavior. You could send his tweets to his mom and not a damn thing would change.

He's still creating new Twitter accounts each time he gets blocked.

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Hope I'll be able to go. Any chance it will be recorded?

I've wondered about comments sections on "news" sites, as they seem to be bridges provided for trolls to lurk under. It's different here on UHub, because it's smaller, and because Adam is actually a great moderator - but if I ever scroll down too far on any other site's articles, I end up wanting to gouge out my own eyes.

Side note: Arthur Chu drove me CRAZY when he was on Jeopardy!, because he was so good at finding Daily Doubles, and therefore so seemingly disorganized in his approach to the clues. (I prefer the slow and steady, category-by-category approach.) However, he has since proven himself to be a cool dude, a good writer, and an outspoken critic of online bullying techniques.

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Recorded? I hope only in plain text transcript. Hey oh

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Did you know 20% of adults have some degree of hearing loss?

http://www.hearingloss.org/content/basic-facts-about-hearing-loss

Did you know over 5% of the world’s population – 360 million people – have disabling hearing loss?
And 33% of adults age 65 and older have disabling hearing loss.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs300/en/

Do you know what screen readers and text readers are?
https://www.afb.org/ProdBrowseCatResults.asp?CatID=49

https://nfb.org/handheld-reader

They transfer text to speech, so blind people can participate in life. PLAIN TEXT, not steno jibberish.

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I asked Ford Hall Forum if there would be a transcript, so us Super Deafies and hearing losers can partake.

They replied "we may livetweet it or you might be able to close-caption the video." I presume they're referring to craptions on YouTube.

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usually a pretty accurate term for closed captions.

Good to know they'll record it; too bad they won't have an especially reliable transcript. At least our fearless moderator will be there, and maybe will post some sort of summation. (Maybe. You do more than enough, Adam.)

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The only way anonymity works without creating a toxic environment, in my experience, is by having a moderated forum with rules of civility that are enforced. It takes work and time, so isn't feasible everywhere. I know because I run a moderated community.

A lot of us who post anonymously have good reasons and are not trolls. If you eliminate this ability, you quell the voices of people who have legitimate reasons to be scared of posting publicly (for just a few examples, women in some tech fields - see swatting conversation the other day, domestic violence victims, religious/ethnic minorities from certain countries, political dissidents).

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It is worth noting that this is the Arthur Chu also of Jeopardy Fame: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Chu Really interesting guy that seems to be at the forefront of the gamergate/internet bullying issues. Loved watching his interactions with Trebeck during his run - seemed like Trebeck couldn't stand him

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Has anyone seen Adam and Spare Change Guy on the same street together?

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We know some Boston politicians are corrupt, and we know that local officials are getting more access to surveillance information. Some degree of anonymity might be the only thing that makes it viable to speak out against the corruption.

At the same time, UH comments have become a 5 minutes of hate. Coming here gives the impression that Boston is a vile little town, of people who can't discuss anything without animosity and idiocy. Even if you can tolerate exposure to that on a daily basis, surely it's psychologically or physiologically bad for you over time.

How you let people say constructive things of substance, including controversial things, without getting smackdown from the corrupt or petty, and without it degenerating into the worst of the local news site comments... I don't know. But I wish someone would figure it out.

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Regarding UH comments: sometimes they get heated, and some commenters do seem to thrive on starting ~*~drama~*~~...but I really don't think the posts or comments here paint Boston as a hateful place. Cranky? Sometimes. Opinionated? Certainly. Stupid? Not for the most part, no. Even when I'm reading something with which I violently disagree, I seldom think the person posting it is a total moron. Troll, attention-seeker, ignorant cuss - maybe. But not unintelligent, not usually.

The thing about crowds, though, is that they do often sink to the lowest common denominator. It happens online, and it happens in the real world. In a smallish forum like this, it's more possible to keep out the worst of the dreck (thanks to Adam's herculean efforts). Elsewhere, it's the Wild West - and what's the solution to that?

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right now you have a location and time, but no date.

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It's next week Thursday.

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I am totally fascinated by internet comments and also the communities that emerge around them; particularly with this site. I've been thinking for a while, asking myself if there is a way to do a documentary film about these personalities and this world, while preserving user anonymity. It would be interesting to follow some of you 'in the act of commenting' - and explore the online/'IRL' overlaps. It is one of my backburner pet projects, but this thread seems like a good place to gauge any possible interest. If anyone would be potentially interested in participating as a subject in such a project, please email me at alpha.bet at comcast.net

thanks for posting this event Adam - it sounds really interesting

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It would be interesting to follow some of you 'in the act of commenting'

Sorry, my employer has a strict no recording policy while I'm at work.

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The Globe ran a story on their commentators. They managed to get at least one of their more prolific posters on camera for an interview. I couldn't help but think the guy was more of an idiot in person than he seemed in his comments.

So sadly I will be declining any offers for this movie. I would rather be thought a fool online than go public and prove to the world just how much of a fool I really am in person without the layer of anonymity.

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no, no, the idea is to maintain anonymity - no talking-head styles- more so closeups of keyboards and hands, wide shots with many people where the commenter-subject is but one of dozens....

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Will the Vicious Anonymity Forum be WebCast ?...

__________ ____________________
6:30 - 8pm Thursday 16 April 2015
55 Temple Street Suffolk University C. Walsh Theatre
Handicap Accessible
Assistive Listening Devices

Vicious Anonymity
Arthur Chu, Blogger, The Daily Beast and Slate; repeat winner, Jeopardy

Jason Tuohey, Editor, BostonGlobe.com
Sarah Sobieraj, Associate Professor of Sociology, Tufts University and author,
The Outrage Industry
https://books.google.com/books?id=-co8BAAAQBAJ&pg=PA230

Moderator: Adam Gaffin, Founder and Editor, UniversalHub.com
Vicious Anonymity
The online world grapples daily with the struggle between freedom of expression and the right to privacy with one’s internet presence, particularly in comment sections of popular blogs.

Nearly all internet comments are allowed to be anonymous but many people regularly take advantage of that with shockingly abusive comments.

Does the American public deserve online privacy?
......[How do folks contribute opinion without retribution?]
......[How do you setup secure anonymity?]

Does the current environment have a chilling effect on others’ freedom of speech?
......[How might better Moderating and Editing be encouraged?]

Can Journalists be expected to take this abuse as part of their jobs, day in and day out?
......[Would studying shorthand improve Journalists' lot?]
......[How might Journalists better understand the mechanisms of technologies/software ?]

And short of compulsory identity verification, is there something we can do to mitigate the ill effects of this sociological phenomenon?
......[Is anonimity fleeting for most folks with forensic technologies/software ?]
......[How do you setup secure anonymity?]

          [Is it important to support editorial privilege as well as encourage critique about how editorial privileges are used?]

          [What might be tried that the deficient level of snark attempts at humor around the net be improved?... see also
http://www.marktwainproject.org/xtf/view?docId=works/MTDP10363.xml;style...
]

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