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Debate for Internet anonymity continues

Staff Reporter

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 01:11

Michael Brutsch is the “IRL” name of Violentacrez, an anonymous Reddit user who created controversial subreddits such as r/Jailbait. Gawker News published his true identity in early October causing outcry over the decreasing anonymity of Internet users.

Modern day online interaction revolves around anonymity. Users are often asked to create usernames to mask their true identity if their posts aren’t published under “anonymous” in online forums, and this luxury is under attack by online moguls like Google and Reddit.

Many different subreddits, including r/TodayILearned, Reddit’s eighth most popular forum section, have vowed to ban posts containing links to any of the Gawker Media outlets in protest of its publication.

In a post regarding the new rules on the forum, moderator TIL_Mod says that the reason for the ban is due to “…an egregious violation of the Reddit rules, and an attack on the privacy of a member of the Reddit community.”

He also said, “Please be aware that this decision was made solely based on our belief that all Redditors should being able to continue to freely express themselves without fear of personal attacks, and in no way reflect the [moderator’s] personal opinion about the people on either side of the recent release of public information.”

Users in support of the ban say that the principle of anonymity on the Internet is the reason for the protest.

Rylea Ducote, a freshman criminal justice major, is a proponent of Internet anonymity.

“People can use it as a way to express themselves anonymously,” she said. “I believe being anonymous on the Internet is very important.”
Google now encourages its YouTube users to use their real name in an effort to make its infamous comment threads more civil, some say.

Ducote said, “It makes you fill out your name anyway, so I think changing your username to your name is unnecessary.”

According to YouTube’s official blog, they are “… giving you the ability to change how you appear on YouTube, with the option to use your Google+ profile on your YouTube channel.”

While the blog post doesn’t show intention, many say that it is in response to a recent NY State Senate bill introduced by State Senator Thomas F. O’Mara.

According to the bill, its purpose is “to amend the civil rights law, in relation to protecting a person’s right to know who is behind an anonymous Internet posting.”

The bill is still in the state senate. If passed, it would drastically change the way Internet users interact and collaborate

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