Updated 17 January 2021
Every few weeks or so, some
one white dude suggests that the way to solve all of our online problems is to require users to submit ID verification and use their “real names,” ignoring years of research and commentary.
This is what I like to call the White Man’s Gambit. I’ve advocated in favor of the right to online anonymity and/or pseudonymity for many years, but no need to take it from me; there is loads of research and advocacy out there from a diversity of groups and individuals. This page will seek to compile that research (as always, DM me on Twitter if you have something to add).
Academic and other research
- J. Nathan Matias’s foundational work on the “real name fallacy,” demonstrating that the use of “real” names does not inherently result in civil discourse.
- Emily van der Nagel’s research on the linking of identities and bodies on NSFW Reddit.
- Also from van der Nagel: “Alts and Automediality: Compartmentalising the Self through Multiple Social Media Profiles”
- Research from the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet on social media and identity verification (link downloads Word doc)
- “Constructing and enforcing ‘authentic’ identity online: Facebook, real names, and non-normative identities” by Oliver L. Haimson and Anna Lauren Hoffmann
- “Trustworthiness and truth: The epistemic pitfalls of internet accountability” by Karen Frost Arnold
- “What do we know and what should we do about internet privacy” by Paul Bernal
- “The Adobe Content Authenticity Initiative approach to authenticity infrastructure against media manipulation” from Witness
- “Ethics for Cyborgs: On Real Harassment in an Unreal Place” by Katherine Cross
Advocacy, popular media, and other expertise
- Realnames.online is an excellent resource on the topic of identity verification
- Geek Feminism Wiki maintains several excellent pages related to the subject
- An important comment from an early Facebook moderator
- “Facebook’s ‘Real Name’ Policy Can Cause Real-World Harm for the LGBTQ Community” (2014) by Jillian C. York and Dia Kayyali
- EFF’s 2015 open coalition letter to Facebook urging them to change their policy.
- “Changes to Facebook’s “Real Names” Policy Still Don’t Fix the Problem” by Eva Galperin and Wafa Ben Hassine (2015)
- “Korean internet identity verification rule struck down unconstitutional; 13 highlights of the judgment” (2012)
- “One Name to Rule Them All: Facebook’s Identity Problem” by Jessa Lingel and Tarleton Gillespie (2014)
- “Pornhub Is Just the Latest Example of the Move Toward a Verified Internet” by Robyn Caplan
- “True Names and Identity on the Internet” by Andrew Conway
- “Real Names Chill Free Speech” by Paul Bernal
- “Tracing trust: Why we must build authenticity infrastructure that works for all” by Sam Gregory
- “Human Rights Video, Privacy and Visual Anonymity in the Facebook Age” by Sam Gregory
- “Nymwars! Part 3 of Google+ and Diversity” by Jon Pincus
- “Why Gaming Culture Allows Abuse…And How We Can Stop It” by Katherine Cross
- “‘Real Names’ Policies are an Abuse of Power” by danah boyd
- “OKCupid’s New Real Name Policy is Dumb” by Kate Conger