Huffington Post commenting policy

So, just before making the last post, I discovered that HuffPost had changed their commenting policy, now requiring that people reveal and verify their real names.  HuffPost had previously promised that they would grandfather older accounts out of this policy, but have apparently rescinded that promise.  I understand why HuffPost is doing this, but I think it’s a mistake.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons why people may want to participate in discussions on the internet while remaining anonymous.  Anyone who has ever changed their political or religious views, or discovered their sexual orientation or identity, or who wants to discuss anything that they’re not ready to get back to their friends, family, teachers, boss, or overall community, will now effectively be locked out.

I understand that civility is an issue.  But there are lots of ways to handle that without forcing people out of anonymity.  HuffPost has a faving system to recognize quality comments.  Many other sites supplement this with a voting up and down system so that particularly poor or nasty comments get buried.  None of these are perfect, but neither is requiring people to use their real names.

This isn’t a personal issue for me.  My name is in the About document on this site and some of you already knew it anyway.  But I do think it is a real issue for the internet and free and open discussion.

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19 Responses to Huffington Post commenting policy

  1. Dan Bostdorf says:

    the issue is not only about transparency of who posts, but that of huffposts artificial intelligence programs that filter and censor comments.

    Requiring Facebook??
    Then how about my VERY VERIFIED LnkedIN account as poof of who I am….

    I have always posted with real name that when reseach is easily verified..

    Huff post is bizarre….

    Like

    • Agreed. Having Facebook be the only way to do it is just added insult. I have a Facebook account, but I don’t trust them and have always been ready to delete it. Now I’ll have to consider the effect it would have on my HuffPost presence.

      Like

  2. While I recognize your viewpoint, I still don’t see why it would be a problem for a congruent person to stand up for what he says, no matter what the forum. Could it be that if we want to say something that is not consistent with who we are, it might not be better not to say it at all? Are you suggesting that a somebody needs to have opinions under split personalities, because his family, his colleagues, or his friends would not like his true sentiments – those he wishes to contribute in a public forum?

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    • Well, I suppose, in the cases of people who fear consequences from authoritarian parents or bosses, abusive spouses, or any other type of bully, whether or not you think these people have a valid viewpoint. I recognize it’s a value judgment, but I think they do.

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      • Dan Bostdorf says:

        Then simply don’t post at all if you can’t be up front and honest about who you are and/or your affiliation with the topic…. Fear consequences? First deal with your situation you are having problems with ie “authoritarian parents or bosses, abusive spouses, or any other type of bully…” Once you have achieved the ability to have the right to exchange ideas and opinion freely without “consequences,” you should then have no problem being a real human being. (nicely meant)

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      • Absolutely – I do see the point. Really, I was just not thinking of wanting to post on Huffington when I have authoritarian parents or bosses, abusive spouses or bullies after me. What a horrible way to live, but perhaps my life is just too straight. Comment accepted.

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  3. DL Hunt says:

    Huffington Post wants your email and social media contacts. I tried linking my Facebook account to my HP account and it told me my social media contacts would become visible. Then, it demanded I verify my Fascebook account by entering a cellphone number. Apparently, I am not a valid human being according to this policy because my cellphone number is not with one of HP’s approved providers. What is a person to do if they do not have a cellphone number?

    Like

  4. Dan Bostdorf says:

    I disagree with Michael’s (selfaware blogger) statement “…. but neither is requiring people to use their real names….”

    Individuals must post with verified real names. LinkedIn offers a greater verification process and should be an alternative to Facebook which I loathe. This verification and use of real names gets rid of the millions of social media trolls (and paid operatives) who pervert the “free exchange of ideas” philosophy.

    A social media troll as someone who seeks to lure or bait people into negative, disruptive rhetoric for their own edification or to commandeer an otherwise free-flowing discussion among colleagues. Many times it is intentional propaganda. This propaganda is an age old method of distracting people from the truth… “It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.” – “The secret of propaganda is to saturate a group of people with propagandist ideas without their even noticing it.” — “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
    – Nazi-Joseph Goebbels.

    Trolls simply don’t recognize anyone that may be interested in discussing something that bores them and most of the time opt to criticize or yell “boring” instead of engaging in the discussion. They choose to belittle those who seek the information and discourse as well as those who try to provide it. They simply have no interest in anything that is not self-serving. Unless of course they are paid to state positions that are self serving

    Trolls will defend their focus on expressing contrary opinions as an honorable attempt to rid the online community of fake-experts, get to the truth of a matter or enlighten their followers; however, their intent has nothing to do with community building or public enlightenment. It also has nothing to do with “free exchange of ideas.”

    Trolls using fake names can be intentional saboteurs paid by lobbying groups or special interests that use propaganda in the guise of truthful dialogue to disrupt websites. Check out nationalmemo.com and you will see dozens of unverified trolls polluting important public discussion.

    At Huffington….the trolls and paid propagandists simply out numbered real people posting opinion related to the topic…the off topic trolss and propagandists are the worst.

    Like

    • I’m not a fan of trolls either, although I doubt that many are paid propagandists. In my experience, most are simply immature, angry, or mentally disturbed individuals. The question is what to do about them. The real name policy may inhibit the angry ones somewhat, but I’m not convinced on the immature or mentally disturbed ones.

      There’s also the added complication that the definition of a troll is somewhat subjective. It’s uncontroversial in the cases where someone is being insulting, abusive, or threatening, but some people think that anyone who disagrees with them is a troll.

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      • Dan Bostdorf says:

        The way to remove trolls is to get verifiable real names. Once they post their garbage moderators simply ban them. I do NOT believe in using AI meta filters as a generic way of excluding commentary as is the case with HuffPost. Best example is for a person to try typing in the word “facsist” or fascism and about two dozen other “inflammatory” phrases into any comment and it is simply rejected ie waiting for a moderator to review it…

        The definition of a troll is well known:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29

        Regarding paid trolls…It has also been documented that groups controlled by Karl Rove and other lobbying groups, both “right wing” and “left wing” extremists, utilize disinformation campaigns in the guise of “fair and balanced” opinion… These groups use “talking points” to promote propaganda via news outlets on “right” as well as “left.”

        The solution is obvious and HuffPost is using only Facebook which is not as accurate as LinkedIn. So–what kind of information sharing is going on between Facebook and HuffPost and for what reason is Facebook exclusively utilized?

        I want to thank you for this site as well.

        Like

  5. amanimal says:

    To make a long story short there may not be enough there to make it worth the effort lack of anonymity aside.

    Like

  6. Peter Doll says:

    Just deactivated my HP account. Hope it was worth it.

    Like

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