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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Newspapers rethink Internet anonymity

Online comments are supposed to stimulate an “open dialog” about issues in blogs, news stories, and other Internet forums. But when comments are anonymous, they often disintegrate into a cesspool of hateful, nasty words directed at the author or subject of the article.

A Cleveland judge recently discovered that anonymous postings are not always so anonymous. After a series of offensive comments about a local attorney were posted on its Web site, a Cleveland newspaper publicly disclosed that the comments were posted from an e-mail address of a judge who was presiding over some of the lawyer’s cases. The judge’s 23-year-old daughter admitted to posting the comments, and the judge sued the newspaper for violating her privacy.

While the Internet creates new ways for people to connect and share ideas, sometimes people go too far. Newspapers are trying to find ways to regulate these interactions – something they have found rather difficult.

To read more about how the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and other newspapers are trying to regulate comment streams, click here.

What do you think about online commenting?