Passport Please

Documenting online users

Recently I had a discussion with the folks at Patch over my concerns how anonymous individuals hide behind their made up names and say irresponsible things.  My concern is what that is doing to our community as well as communities all over this country on Patch.com.  Those who use anonymous names feel empowered to say almost anything they want with out fear of any real retribution.  This, even within a policy of Terms of Service.  But they certainly wouldn't say those things if they were face to face with someone.

Coincidently, I just came across today a news item about some Facebook and Instagram users having had their accounts pulled from them until they provide a copy of government issued identification such as a U.S. Issued Passport, State Drivers License or other recognized form of identification. 

I personally believe this is a good step in making people act online like they would in person.  I share this here so not only the community can be informed of this but also the management at Patch as well, if they weren't aware already.  It is time we not let slide the irresponsible and in some cases slanderous ways of some people.  Having a policy which does away with the concept of anonymous or fake users would, in my opinion, help us create a more inviting online community.

I have heard some people say they use fake names for safety reasons.  My response is if you do not say irresponsible things you will not need to fear from people.  It is when you make threats or get people really upset that some might react with violence or the treat of violence.  Treat people like you would like to be treated and that problem goes away.

To document the Facebook and Instagram Terms of Service Policy change, I share the following article:


I hope Patch takes this example seriously with the new roll out of Patch 2.0 which has been talked about being released sometime in 2013.


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

CowDung January 30, 2013 at 02:43 AM
Mike: The only difference in the way I post under my pseudonym would be that I feel more free to be open and honest without fear of retribution against my family or myself. I don't post with the purpose of offending anyone, but I post to express my honest opinions, and to challenge statements made by others that I believe to be incorrect, misleading or dishonest.
Heather in Caledonia January 30, 2013 at 02:46 AM
Mike, no. I have not caught myself doing that, so, no - my anonymity has not played any role in my comment content.
Heather in Caledonia January 30, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Mike, You do have a point about how someone's moniker is perceived online. The picture displayed next to one's name\nickname also will prejudice a person for or against someone even before they read the comment. However, those are minor things that can easily be overlooked once you actually start to read comments posted by the person. How do I really know that Mike Knox is your name, though? I could easily post under Jane Smith or Joe Muller and no one would know the difference. It doesn't matter to me what name you use, it matters what you say and how you say it. It appears that most of the people who commented are fine with people logging in as they feel is appropriate. I hope you can at least understand and respect the opinion of those who prefer to conceal their real names from the Entire Internet when posting their personal opinions and viewpoints for all The World to see for All Time. I think this thread has been battered around enough for me, so I'll attempt to move along my merry way. :) Good night to you all, both named and anonymous.
Mike Knox January 30, 2013 at 03:22 AM
Thanks for your responses Rees, Heather and Mr. Dung. May I call you Cow? When I changed my moniker back to my real name, it was my to be a reminder to be more conscious of what I post. It is my way of trying to foster trust and encourage the Patch community to treat me like a real person, not a make-believe character. Would posting our real names lead to a more civil discourse? Perhaps. Anonymity removes some accountability and that is not always a good thing. Knowing that your minister, co-worker or in-law might question you about what you posted is a strong influence on social behavior. I appreciate the example of how the Federalist Papers were authored under a pseudonym. Is it the same? Do we have future Hamilton's, Jay's or Madison's in our midst? Only history will tell. For now, I prefer to keep real names optional and hope for the best. Sincerely, Philo-Patchus
Mike Knox January 30, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Heather, I can deal with anonymity. As a matter of fact, it may be considered part of your right to privacy.
Hershal Webster January 30, 2013 at 03:29 AM
As I see it, if you have a problem with screen names the internet may not be for you. Years ago everyone said Mr. Webster, now it is Hershal, in between it was Dude. Here I used my full real name, if I were to do it again I would go with Dude. Otis would be cool too. W. C. Fields’ actual name was William Claude Dukenfield. He wrote many of his movies as other people, including Charles Bogle, Mahatma Kane Jeeves, and Otis Criblecoblis. You probably wouldn’t be interested in watching Norma Jean Baker, Archibald Leach, or Karen Johnson perform, but you might change your mind if you heard the names Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, or Whoopi Goldberg.
Suzanne Whiteside January 30, 2013 at 03:38 AM
Just think about all the time you all have spent on this issue. What if you had done something constructive or volunteered in our community? That would make a difference and a positive one at that.
Heather in Caledonia January 30, 2013 at 04:11 AM
Suzanne, I disagree. I think exercising our minds as well as our bodies is helpful to our overall well being. As inane a discussion as you may think this is, there was some thoughtful discourse and debate. I worked hard today at my job and enjoyed a bit of screen time listening to two sides of an argument play out while making a few small contributions myself. I guess I could have used that time to wash some dishes and vacuum the living room, but I must say I enjoyed those few minutes reading online more. :)
Rees Roberts January 30, 2013 at 04:17 AM
Well you both made my day. I can tell you I did my volunteering last night by recording the Mt. Pleasant Board of Trustees meeting and put it on another Blog here on our Patch. I even invited people to come to it so we could meet. No one showed up. But at least you can listen to it. And Heather, I appreciate the characterization you gave about our discourse earlier. I actually have to tell you I agree that the interchange was thoughtful. (shhhhh, don't tell CowDung)
Bob McBride January 30, 2013 at 04:49 AM
Yes! Just like that except w/o the beer.
Bottom Line January 30, 2013 at 05:50 AM
I'm late to the party, but I strongly disagree with Rees, and others demanding the use of your "real" name, they overlook many issues. Some, like Brian Dey have addressed the obvious ... possibility of physical harm to you and those you hold dear, which I add that Rees conveniently never addressed after Brian offered personal examples. Interesting that there aren't liberal posters that can share examples of retribution by the evil right after they simply shared their opinion the way Brian has. I believe allowing screen names invites many that would otherwise refuse to offer their opinion. While it is true that a few will be repugnant when they can hide behind a screen name, on both sides, the moderators can certainly edit that behavior. If society were civil there wouldn't be a reason to want anonymity ... any can see that we live in a world that has just enough incivility to stifle many publicly, and that is the real shame. True, that many that are comfortable, or find honor, in using their name and are confident ... which carries some weight ... but it hardly diminishes those unwilling to take that risk. Their are other issues that cause some to be anonymous ... reasons that none have touched on, suffice to say that some are overlooking realities due to their ignorance, which is not their fault. I believe the input of all can be measured regardless the name ... I think Rees is missing that possibility ... or he hopes to stifle opposition.
Rees Roberts January 30, 2013 at 06:33 AM
Bottom Line: You characterize my comments as "demanding the use of your "real" name". Then you characterize that Brian Dey address the possibility of physical harm while you characterize my not commenting when you said that I "conveniently never addressed after Brian offered personal examples." Talk about spin and taking out of context. Here are direct quotes from Brian Dey: Brian Dey 6:43 am on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 "But in the end, in my personal view, If I'm going to put it out there, I should assume the risk." Brian Dey 4:04 pm on Monday, January 28, 2013 "I will always use my given name because that is who I am and what I choose to do." What on earth should I address after those conclusions? He continues to use his real name. I started this Blog to point out that some very large social media companies are starting to demand proof of who you are. I am in no position to demand anything but I did talk to a Patch representative about my views that anonymous content hurts community values. And as we learned in this thread from Heather in Caledonia, an article in the Smithsonian "saw anonymity as a poison seed. The way it didn't hide, but, in fact, brandished the ugliness of human nature beneath the anonymous screen name masks an enabling and foreshadowing of mob rule, not a growth of democracy, but an accretion of tribalism." Shouldn't that be enough? Give me a break.
Bob McBride January 30, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Assuming FB or other services started requiring users to provide copies of certain forms of ID, if those services store the copies as documentation to cover their own you-know-whats (the most likely reason for requesting the documentation in the first place), that collection will immediately become a target for identity thieves.
Jay Sykes January 30, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Greg, YOU have been flagged! ______________________ |XXXXXXX|=============| |XXXXXXX|=============| |XXXXXXX|=============| |=====================| |=====================| |=====================| ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Luke January 30, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Flag Bren for two instances of poor grammatical construction and a minimum of two punctuation errors. (There are certainly more, but I stopped counting.)
Jay Sykes January 30, 2013 at 02:29 PM
☭ ☭ - poor grammatical construction ☭ ☭ - punctuation errors
Frank McGruber January 30, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Wow, Rees! You must be quite pleased that you posted such a hot button topic. I hope you get a per-comment or per-click spiff on this.
Greg January 30, 2013 at 03:26 PM
I think the sites that Mr. Roberts put out there as requiring I.D. have nothing to do with the outcome that he wants here. Carding for age, like in a bar, is different than carding to control content. The format of the sites is completely different, so applying their requirements here, for a completely different reason, is senseless.
Bob McBride January 30, 2013 at 03:28 PM
No, Craig, but it would thin the ranks considerably. That's why, in the case of FB/Instagram it's unlikely to happen. They backed off of the portion of their TOS that stated they had the right to sell pictures people posted on Instagram for the same reason. They ticked off Kim Kardashian, who threatened to leave, taking the rest of America's Royal Family with her, and start posting her scantily-clad self-shots on some other service.
Greg January 30, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Mr. Craig, If they require I.D. to control content, is that constitutional? Or could they also become responsible for the content?
Bottom Line January 30, 2013 at 05:42 PM
My, my. I suppose I stretched a bit on the word "demand" due to your reference of sites that may "demand" real names. True, Brian is willing to continue exposing himself, his family, and his neighbors to risks - many are not. He specifically cited liberal thuggery he was subjected to ... @Brian "After I wrote an article on the recalls and the two year old mentality of the blue fisters, my mailbox was blown up. I had the lugs on one of my trucks loosened and two weeks later, the same happened to another one of my vehicles." ... you certainly have the right to overlook what he shared, but since this is your blog, I thought you might consider the grave truth ... thuggery exists, and many thugs will try to do you harm if you disagree with them. You chose to avail yourself comments that supported your position, and ignored what did not ... I wish you well on your endeavor - but if you are claiming you are being objective, I respectfully disagree.
Keith Schmitz January 31, 2013 at 03:17 AM
You are to be admired for it Brian. I probably have lost a client here or there for it, but it is your right and duty as a citizen to express your opinion and be involved in politics, what ever it is.
Keith Schmitz January 31, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Time to bury the hatchet.
Rees Roberts February 03, 2013 at 01:46 AM
If anyone is still following this blog here is a link to the Smithsonian article discussed by Heather. I recommend reading it. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/ideas-innovations/What-Turned-Jaron-Lanier-Against-the-Web-183832741.html
Heather in Caledonia February 03, 2013 at 03:53 AM
Thanks for posting, digitalhermit. I finally had a chance to read the article and it made some good points.
Heather in Caledonia February 03, 2013 at 03:55 AM
Mind you, I mentioned the article, but I do not endorse the person's opinion. It surprised me to sit down and open a magazine to the exact topic we were discussion, though. :)
Rees Roberts February 03, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Jaron Lanier said he "saw anonymity as a poison seed. The way it didn’t hide, but, in fact, brandished the ugliness of human nature beneath the anonymous screen-name masks. An enabling and foreshadowing of mob rule, not a growth of democracy, but an accretion of tribalism." It's that last part that I fear. Generally speaking we all agree that taking someone to a tree to lynch by hanging is grossly wrong. But in our past, that occurred by mob rule. I did a careful dictionary lookup: accretion: growth in size or extent. tribalism: a strong loyalty to one's own tribe, party, or group. party? group? Look at what we have in todays politics. Given the actions of our elected legislators as entrenched each political party has become amongst ourselves, it is no wonder people feel fear from retribution. Is that the country we want looking forward? Do we want fear as the basis to how we react? Is that the "United" States of America you want for your children? Is it? Maybe now you can see why I have created this blog. There is a real connection between how we talk amongst ourselves and what actions we ultimately could take part in. If we continue down the current path of fear, the real possibility of lynch mob mentality could come back. We would only then be a step away from seeing it for real. That would certainly be something to fear. I, for one, believe we are all better than that.
Carbon Bigfuut February 03, 2013 at 03:25 PM
In most blog posts, it seems obvious to me which posters are using anonymity to post as "trolls", just to stir the pot and contribute nothing, vs. those using handles to post intelligent substance. I just disregard the troll posts. Some blogs have "twit filters", used by each reader to filter out those posters who they feel never post anything useful.
mau February 03, 2013 at 06:29 PM
I am not anonymous on Facebook. I opened my account for a reason, so people can find me. Kind of ironic you have a group of people who think people are being disenfranchised because they can't provide ID to vote yet think online social groups like Facebook should do this. What if grandma wants to get on FB to interact with her grandchildren and can't provide the proper ID.
mau February 03, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Mine is not an alias, it is an acronym. No one is anonymous on the internet. So who cares what name you go by. I could make up any name and use it here. If The Patch doesn't know who you really are then they better get rid of themselves. Facebook knows who you are and will willingly provide that information to law enforcement, other government agencies and anyone else they want to so they can make money off of you.


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