Should we force people to disclose their identity online?
Matthew Wright’s The Wright Stuff on channel 5 this morning had an interesting discussion on whether people should be forced to reveal their identity online in order to stop cyberbullying and hate crimes on the internet.
Matthew Wright made the connection between ID cards, which he and most people opposed and this potential policy. Wright said he was more likely to support this measure even though he opposed ID cards. Two of the panellists, Pollyanna Woodward and Lesley Garrett said they agree with net bosses that anonymity fuels hate crime online.
Not only do I think it wrong to force people to reveal their true identity but i don’t think anonymity is fuelling the hate crime.
On blogs like this and other free blog sites, in order to post a comment, you have to give an email address and an identity. Yes, you can lie in order to hide your identity, but if your hiding your identity in order to post vile comments or do vile things then you know what you are doing is wrong. I’m not sure this is the case with cyberbullies.
A huge part of the problem is that your interacting with a computer that has no emotions, and so are not aware of how your words might hurt the feelings of the/a person sitting at another computer reading the comments.
Most people recognise that kids are undoubtedly cruel to one another, mainly because they don’t know what they are doing. They learn to respect other people’s feelings through discipline and being told that saying cruel things that hurt other’s feelings is not nice.
The problem is, we haven’t learnt this online and its harder to tell people off online.
There is a bigger question. Kids spend an awful amount of time online and our perhaps not learning the social values in the same way. I believe this will change how they interact with people in the “real world”. I would hazard a guess that cyberbullying and hate crimes online will appear more and more in the “real world” as kids who grew up online bring this into the real world. The question is: how do we teach social values, how do we teach kids and adults alike to respect others feelings online?