L.H.P erspective

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The Comment Section

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It is becoming more and more popular for consumers of news to have an outlet to make their voices heard by the general public and by the papers/publications they read. Unfortunately today’s world poses an interesting dilemma for the media outlets: should those commenting be forced to use their real names or can they continue to do so anonymously?

Though it has not been proven in a court of law, there is one glaring incident in Cleveland, Ohio with the Cleveland Plain Dealer where making people post under their real names would seem logical.  A Cuyahoga County judge, Shirley Strickland Saffold, is currently suing the paper for $50 million because the paper traced her anonymous comments regarding court cases, some of which she sat as the presiding judge for, and published her identity.

One noteworthy individual, Howard Owens, the editor and publisher of TheBatavian.com, wrote on his personal blog how it’s extremely important for news agencies to only let individuals comment using real names.

For me, it’s an interesting predicament. I feel as though the internet is a different medium than print and is therefore afforded different regulatory standards. I am not, however, trying to say that individuals commenting on online stories should be afforded any less constitutional rights of privacy then they would otherwise be given if they were writing a letter to the editor of the New York Times or Boston Globe.

I think that if the only way for people to comment on your site is to do so by using their real name then the comment sections will shrink. This is because we have become accustomed to doing things anonymously via the internet, but as every person of my generation can tell you, nothing you do on the internet is anonymous. Some computer nerd can figure out your IP address and a bunch of other stuff which would identify you and only you as the person making the comments.

Personally, I’m not one to comment on web sites and I don’t really read those sections anyway. Occasionally I’ll glance at the stuff written at the bottom of a funny YouTube clip because it’s usually “laugh out loud” hilarious.

Keeping the identities anonymous is fine with me as long as somewhere in the fine print the news agency states that they reserve the right to find out who you are for whatever reasons. It doesn’t bother me that they may bury the exact line on page 57–if they say it somewhere, then by clicking the box, I’m stating that I’m okay with whatever they say.

And if you make some erroneous comments, then be ready because there’s some computer guy sitting in a basement or a nice executive office who has the tools to find out who you are without breaking a sweat.


Written by lhpious

April 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm

One Response

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  1. I shouldn’t be surprizing so hard at that.


    April 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm

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