About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Facebook ruins the internets - a defence of anonymity, etc.

Here's a post concerned that Facebook is rooning teh internets by destroying our authenticiteh. It seems a bit OOT to me, but it's very much the opposite viewpoint to Farhad Manjoo's. [Edit, I should note that the author says that anonymity is not his main/real point, though his real point does seem to be about the ability to create multiple online identities for different contexts.]

I expect that we'll continue to see some sites require people to use their Facebook identities, but others would be destroyed if they tried such a thing. It'll find a level.

Anyway, I had to laugh at this:

Face it, authenticity goes way down when people know their 700 friends, grandma, and 5 ex-girlfriends are tuning in each time they post something on the web.

In my case, it's a smaller number of ex-girlfriends on Facebook, and certainly not grandma ... but over 1800 friends.


James Sweet said...

There's some truth to that. I don't post atheism-related (or anything controversial) to my wall. Of course, I use my real name for all of my online communications, much of it tied to my Facebook account, so I'm not *hiding* anything.

But since I know anything I say on my wall will go to almost everyone I know, whether they want to hear it or not... I only say banal stuff like, "Kids are asleep, yay!" or "Ow I burned my hand."

Put it this way: I don't say anything on Facebook that I wouldn't feel comfortable saying at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I don't mind having other comments tied to my Facebook identity -- I just don't say it on my wall.

And since Facebook is so central to many people's communication, that maybe does erode authenticity overall a bit too...

Rorschach said...

I publish most of my blog posts on my FB, and I'm quite happy to have a certain drop-out and defriending toll to pay, it separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I don't have family as FB friends though, and am rather selective with work collegues.