Presented at HOPE Number Nine (2012)
July 13, 2012, 7 p.m.
The last year has seen an Internet-wide debate over real names, pseudonyms, and anonymity online, especially on social networks and in the comment sections of blogs and newspapers. Facebook has required users to use their real names from the very beginning and newspapers have increasingly embraced the same requirement for commenting on their websites. Proponents of real name policies cite increased civility and quality of content. But pseudonymity and anonymity have a long history in public discourse, and they are essential for privacy and speaking truth to power. This talk will examine the debate over anonymity and pseudonymity online, with a focus on Facebook and the Arab Spring, and Google Plus and Nymwars.
Eva Galperin is an activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where she does education, mobilization, and outreach on all things related to digital civil liberties. Prior to EFF, Eva worked at the U.S.-China Policy Institute, where she helped to organize conferences and research Chinese energy policy. She has bachelor’s degrees from SFSU in international relations and political science, which she is continuously astonished to find useful on a daily basis.