Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg: Anonymity Online ‘Has To Go Away’

As reported today on Huffington Post:

Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s marketing director, has a fix for cyberbullying: stop people from doing anything online without their names attached.

Facebook requires all members to use their real names and email addresses when joining the social network — a policy that has been difficult at times to enforce, as the prevalence of spam accounts or profiles assigned to people’s pets suggest.

Zuckerberg, who is Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, argued that putting an end to anonymity online could help curb bullying and harassment on the web.

“I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away,” she said during a panel discussion on social media hosted Tuesday evening by Marie Claire magazine. “People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.”

Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg: Anonymity Online ‘Has To Go Away’

Actually, no. What has got to go is Facebook and its arrogant, exploitati­ve owner and managers.

What happened to MySpace can just easily happen to Facebook. Total implosion of value, and abandonmen­t by its members.

We are talking about a virtual village here. It has no substance or value in any traditiona­l sense. It is totally dependent on those who sign up and use it, and on there being enough of them to manage to attract advertiser­s.

If all the users walk away, Facebook is nothing. Its value deflates pretty much to zero, because there will not be that much residual value in the hardware hosting the servers that run it. Having just wrapped up an almost 30 year career in IT, I can tell you with certainty that very few things depreciate faster than a computer, and that includes even high end servers.

It is not like it is the only game in town. Google+ could well emerge as a strong contender, because, hate on Google for it’s success all you want, unlike Facebook’s constant attack on privacy and user data, and Microsoft’­s total cave to the Chinese (you do know M$ censors search results on behalf of the Chinese government for services to that nation, right?), Google still tries to adhere to its motto of “do no evil”.

I cannot say the same thing for Facebook. I am willing to bet any of you out there with an iota of knowledge and intelligen­ce will agree.

What you see here is not only an attack on privacy and anonymity in public by governments around the world, but by our corporate overlords, in this case the marketers and advertisers in particular.

The history and growth of the Internet has been one long continuum of the creation of new and ever more insidious ways for them to identify and track anyone who uses the World Wide Web, for one simple purpose. To try and monetize that knowledge through advertising and direction of the users towards what the trackers identify as their interests.

We no longer have just cookies, we now have super-cookies and zombie-cookies, that are often hard to exterminate even by programs designed to hunt them down and eradicate them. DoubleClick led the charge on this sort of invasion of privacy years ago, and the marketers and their technical crews have never stopped finding ways. A few years ago, Sony took a powerful PR hit when it was discovered they were installing from their CDs what was essentially a secret rootkit, that embedded itself in the actual kernel of the Windows operating system, an absolute recipe for disaster, and a complete abrogation of any sense of ethics or morality on the part of the company.

As for the governments, the attacks on the Internet and privacy will only increase for one simple reason. The openness and anonymity of the Internet is a powerful shield against the excesses of governments, and a direct threat to their power to control information and the message, and ultimately their grasp on power. If you want an example of that, you might look no further than the impact that this web site, the DailyKos community, has had on politics.

I have often compared the impact of the Internet on society as being not just equivalent to, but greater in effect than the invention of the printed book in the West by Gutenberg. Suddenly sharing of information in a form that could be easily created and distributed undermined completely the power of the religious classes and their manuscripts of the Bible. Suddenly the Bible was in the hands and in the languages of everyday citizens, and suddenly they could read, analyze, interpret, and draw their own conclusions. The result was explosive, namely, the Reformation, and the development of many variations on Christianity. The same impacts were seen in the political sphere. The broadside and pamphlets became a staple of political expression and attempts by the peoples of nations to change the power structures of their rulers. The American Revolution is a prime example.

For this reason, we are already seeing repressive regimes worldwide attempting to control the flow of information on the Internet, and eliminate the information they do not want to see.

Sadly, for American citizens, its own government is increasingly right there with the forces of repression and suppression. It has become clear in the past couple of years that the various security and intelligence agencies of the United States have put a vast infrastructure in place to monitor the electronic communications and activities on the Internet of American citizens, without a shred of reference to or even a nod towards the traditional concepts of due process and protections from warrantless search and seizure that is one of the bedrock fundamentals of the Constitution.

So there is really much more to this sort of comment by Facebook staffers than just their desire to make a few more billions off invasion of privacy of their users.

The very future of the Internet as a forum of open and unfettered communication, not restrained by political and corporate power, is at stake.


Author: Ron