An Aliasless Internet

Since chat rooms and forums were created on the Internet, aliases and fake names have existed. Most social networking sites allow you to use an alias other than your real name. I would like to believe that during the beginning stages of the public use of the Internet, “ASL?” was the most common acronym used in conversations. But how many times has someone told the truth about their age, sex, and location? Who are you really talking to on these forums, chat rooms, or any other website that requires an alias? How does one really know if someone with the name xXxCoolGuy35 is really a trustworthy person? Or if the person you are chatting with on JDate is really a highly paid lawyer in Boston? Would that one guy make such a horrible and racially charged comment on your YouTube video if he was not hiding behind his alias? The answer is “You do not know.” There are a lot of ways to find people on the Internet. You can look up an individual’s IP address and locate where that person is using their Internet. If you use the same alias for multiple websites and attach your real name to it, the alias could be very well be searched for on Google and cross-referenced with your name. I bring this all up because I propose the question of what if we had to use our real name for every website? Facebook prohibits fake names, so what if every website you sign up for had the same rules as Facebook for creating a new account? How much different would the Internet be? Would the etiquette of the Internet change at all or would it still pretty much be the same?

In some ways, the ball has been starting to role where only your real name is out there. You can be found in the WhitePages. There are websites that tell you what phone numbers belong to who. YouTube has even allowed you to start using your own name when ever you comment, like a video, or upload a video. They connect it to your Gmail or Google+ account as well. YouTube believes that this will help stop those horrible comments people leave on videos.   

The Watkins reading called “Digital Gates” talks about how most people are not comfortable with randoms seeing our information and we are far more comfortable picking who we share our information with. The example Watkins gives is that Facebook is like our own gated communities where we have people similar to ourselves that we know to some degree and trust. Do you think that if the whole Internet had all our information out in the open, like Facebook, that it would bring everyone closer together or have even worse effects? It sounds dangerous because one person can say something off putting to someone else and if that person is unstable, he might be able to find that person’s information and cause harm. But why would that happen? Both individual’s information is out in the open to everyone. It could cause anarchy, but maybe instead it could cause a respect and understanding to each other.

Lastly, I’d like you to look at the information provided by How different do you think these statistics would be if less information was hidden throughout the Internet?


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