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Online commenting: the age of rage

Online commenting: the age of rage
For a while after his first TV series was broadcast in 2009, comedian Stewart Lee was in the habit of collecting and filing some of the comments that people made about him on web pages and social media sites. He did a 10-minute Google trawl most days for about six months and the resultant collected observations soon ran to dozens of pages. If you read those comments now as a cumulative narrative, you begin to fear for Stewart Lee. A good third of the posts fantasised about violence being done to the comic, most of the rest could barely contain the extent of their loathing. This is a small, representative selection: "I hate Stewart Lee with a passion. Lee, a standup comedian who does not shy away from the more grotesque aspects of human behaviour, or always resist dishing out some bile of his own, does not think of himself as naive. The "40,000 words of hate" have now become "anthropologically amusing" to him, he insists. The psychologists call it "deindividuation". Have they ever met?

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Eric Raymond I agree with +David Formosa about Facebook. They've had years to show that the lack of anonymity leads to a troll-free environment, and they have failed in that regard and there are notable cases of trolling. It's not the anonymity of the Internet, but the remote nature of it. Online disinhibition and the psychology of trolling In everyday life, decorum dictates that certain things just don't happen. Funerals, even for divisive figures tend to go by with solemn respect. Compare this with a recent example of online trolling at its most extreme: In 2011, a Reading man was jailed for raiding the Facebook tribute pages of a 14 year old girl who had committed suicide, filling it with crass jokes and insults.

Next time, I'll spend the money on drugs instead. From: Jane GillesDate: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.19pmTo: David ThorneSubject: Overdue account Dear David, Our records indicate that your account is overdue by the amount of $233.95. If you have already made this payment please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding. Yours sincerely, Jane GillesFrom: David ThorneDate: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.37pmTo: Jane GillesSubject: Re: Overdue account Would Anonymity Help Activists on Facebook? A Response to Luke Allnutt Luke Allnutt has a thoughtful piece on RFE/RL asking the above question: Would anonymity help activists on Facebook? His response, “maybe not,” relies on the idea that anonymity would be extended only to those with special “activist status,” something I haven’t heard concretely argued as a potential model but which is nonetheless troubling. Allnutt writes: If Facebook had a special “activist’s status,” where it officially allowed some accounts to be pseudonymous, where does it draw the line?

Psychology's answer to trolling and online abuse Do we each harbour a dark passenger? A malevolent psychopath? A fragile narcissist? Contrary to popular belief, decades of psychological research shows that anyone is capable of aggression, cruelty and violence. Yik Yak is the hottest messaging app. So how are Brits using it? Are you yakking yet? No, not a reference to throwing up as part of a venomous post-Christmas-party hangover. Yik Yak is the latest messaging app to take US college campuses by storm, and then Silicon Valley. The app, which makes anonymity a key feature, launched in November 2013, had 100,000 users by February 2014, and then raised a startling $61m funding round in November. This, for what its founders describe as “the only way to create a localised social forum without prior relationships or friendships for the purpose of delivering relevant, timely content to hyper-local areas of people”.

Despite hoaxes, anonymity remains important Over the past few weeks, much of the world's attention was captured by the story of supposed Syrian blogger Amina Arraf, also known as "Gay Girl in Damascus". From reports on June 6 of Arraf's alleged kidnapping by Syrian security forces to the June 12 confession from American Tom MacMaster that he had fabricated Arraf's entire persona, the story unfolded rapidly, leaving the public confused in its wake. Central to this story is the role that traditional media played in perpetuating what is now known to be a hoax. Though the persona of Amina Arraf was created as early as 2007, Arraf's blog did not gain prominence until earlier this year when, after a small amount of hype in the blogosphere, two major publications - the Guardian and CBS - wrote pieces profiling the blogger. The Guardian in particular has come under fire for a March article, in which a pseudonymous journalist in Damascus "interviewed" Arraf without disclosing that she had never met the blogger in person.

Can Lindy West’s ‘This American Life’ Segment Make the Internet Nicer? Just about every writer whose work is posted on the Internet has to deal with the bane of the comments section, but for Lindy West, a former Jezebel staffer who currently writes for publications like GQ and The Guardian, the comments section has become a war zone. She’s candid and funny, unafraid to criticize rape jokes or explain how airlines discriminate against fat people, and her fearlessness has made her one of the most notable voices on the Internet. According to this week’s episode of This American Life, “If You Don’t Have Something Nice to Say, Say It in ALL CAPS” — along with plenty of other writing West has done — it has also made her a magnet for trolls. As she puts it in this must-listen-to episode, “I said I think a lot of male comedians are careless about rape,” and then we hear her read just what some of the comments said: “I love how the bitch complaining about rape is the exact kind of bitch that would never be raped.”

Bitcoin is not Anonymous Bitcoin is not inherently anonymous. It may be possible to conduct transactions is such a way so as to obscure your identity, but, in many cases, users and their transactions can be identified. We have performed an analysis of anonymity in the Bitcoin system and published our results in a preprint on arXiv. The Full Story Anonymity is not a prominent design goal of Bitcoin. However, Bitcoin is often referred to as being anonymous.

Trolls and Martyrdom: Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie When the only thing you’re reverent of is irreverence, you eventually get chan culture—people who shout racial slurs and think they’ve accomplished something in the name of 'free speech.' Shooting people is wrong. I want to get this out of the way. Google+, Privacy, and Balancing Identity Blog Update (July 26, 2011): Real Names, Guilt, Self-Censorship, and the Identity War A few days ago in Google+'s "Identity" Controversy: No Easy Answers, I briefly discussed why identity issues -- especially related to Google's excellent new Google+ product, but by no means restricted to Google -- are so complex. I also explained various aspects of Google's policies regarding identity issues associated with Google+ and Google Profiles as I understand them, based on my recent conversation with Google representatives on this topic. Reaction to my posting could best be described as "comprehensive." There are lots of strong feelings about identity, anonymity, pseudonymity, and associated issues, and there are many hopes and concerns regarding Google's getting these "right" for the presumably very long-term Google+ project. There are a variety of reasons to encourage the use of "true names" (or at least "commonly known by names") in social media such as Google+, Facebook, and others.

There's a push in Sweden to deal with Internet trolls Sweden has a high Internet penetration rate — almost 95 percent of people can access high-speed conections. It's not surprising, then, that a lot of Swedes spend large amounts of time on the Internet — alongside countless Internet trolls. Internet trolls plague most any forum that offers people the chance to comment. But according to reporter Adrian Chen, there is a push in Sweden to confront such online hatred.

The freedom to be who you want to be… Posted by Alma Whitten, Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering Peter Steiner’s iconic “on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” cartoon may have been drawn in jest--but his point was deadly serious, as recent events in the Middle East and North Africa have shown. In reality, as the web has developed--with users anywhere able to post a blog, share photos with friends and family or “broadcast” events they witness online--the issue of identity has become increasingly important. So, we’ve been thinking about the different ways people choose to identify themselves (or not) when they’re using Google--in particular how identification can be helpful or even necessary for certain services, while optional or unnecessary for others. Attribution can be very important, but pseudonyms and anonymity are also an established part of many cultures -- for good reason. When it comes to Google services, we support three types of use: unidentified, pseudonymous and identified.

Women Can't Talk About Sports on the Internet Without Receiving Threats of Sexual Violence It's March, which means that the fanfare surrounding the wildly popular college basketball tournament March Madness has hit a fever pitch. For some sports fans, however, the hullaballoo comes with a side of sexual harassment. Actress Ashley Judd, who has been active in Hollywood for more than two decades, is also a die-hard University of Kentucky Wildcats fan. While watching her team play the University of Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday, Judd posted a since-deleted tweet that suggested the Razorbacks were playing dirty — an act that apparently triggered an avalanche of online abuse, much of which was sexual in nature. Judd then retweeted one of the messages, from a user whose account is no longer active: But that wasn't all.