Online commenting: A right to remain anonymous?

Joseph Reagle, a professor at Northeastern University with a forthcoming book on commenting culture, holds that anonymous commenting is not a fundamental right, and that the ability to hide behind a pseudonym does little to improve online discussions.

“Does anonymity make good or otherwise decent people behave worse?” he asks. “Or are bad people — however you define that — more attracted to commenting and trolling and griefing than normal people?”

Indeed, on Twitter and Facebook, it isn’t difficult to find vicious, hateful comments made by people posting under their real names. Reagle goes on to cite a recent university study that found a positive correlation between trolling and a personal tendency toward sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism.

Read the full article at USA Today and a Q&A with Reagle at USA Today’s