Facebook's marketing director Randi Zuckerberg, who also happens to be Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's sister, wants to put an end to online anonymity. She believes that Internet users would act much more responsibly online if they were forced to use their real names at all times.
During a Marie Claire round table discussion on cyberbullying and social media, Randi explained how using real names online could help curb bullying and harassment on the web, according to Huffington Post:
I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away… People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.
Zuckerberg was asked several times to name what new features Facebook will offer to better safeguard security on the social networking site. Unsurprisingly, she refused to give specific examples of forthcoming initiatives:
There's so much more we can do. We're actively trying to work with partners like Common Sense Media and our safety advisory committee.
Five months ago, Facebook announced new safety resources and tools for reporting issues, in conjunction with a White House summit for preventing bullying. Four months ago, the company rolled them out.
Facebook requires all members to use their real names on the social network, but clearly the company knows that bullying continues to be a problem. It's thus unlikely that cyberbullying and harassment would stop if real names had to be used everywhere online. Would the number of issues really decrease if real names were a requirement?
Also five months ago, 4chan founder Christopher Poole (also known as "moot") tried to explain how important anonymity is on the Internet and that Mark Zuckerberg doesn't get this. When there is anonymity, users can employ what Poole calls "fluid identity," where there’s no risk of failure, so experimentation flourishes. Elsewhere on the Web, however, such as websites that require you to login via Facebook, the cost of failure is really high because you're contributing as yourself. As a result, mistakes are attributed to who you are, Poole argues.
In short, there are cases where you want your actions to be attributed to you, and others where you don't. I believe real names should only be required in scenarios where your actions can hurt others; in other cases, anonymity is just fine.