Anonymity is so … 1999

Hoping to start some discussion here about the role (if any!) for anonymity in online environments, especially when people are pitching sales or services.     I’m starting to think I’m pretty much opposed to anonymous stuff in almost all circumstances because it fosters so many of the bad things in the online world, and helps in so few cases.

At Twitter on prominent guy was pitching for $50,000 in startup funding, then appeared to be retweeting his pitch via … at least one fake profile though I can’t be certain it was fake.    However there’s enough deception now at Twitter that it requires almost as much skepticism as we have for bogus email scams.    Skepticism is healthy and good but we need to *reduce it whenever possible* to create more effecient and safe business environments online.     There is *FAR, FAR* too much tolerance of scammers in their various and sundry forms even as search engines work very hard to eliminate those who seek to manipulate their search rankings.

Tangential point here:  Google – I’d argue very evil-y and non-Googley – worries far more about certain SEO tweaks that have little impact  on users than they do about lying and cheating scammers who deceptively advertise using adwords.     In fact we could not even resolve an issue a few years ago where our India Travel website was hacked and payments made to somebody else for adsense advertising.   Google is a lot more interested in protecting their advertisers [cough Cash Cow cough]  than protecting their publishers or their users.    This point is so rock solid I’d like to debate it sometime with a Google person, for although I have a lot of respect for them in some areas I’m pretty much tired to death of the idea they don’t value advertising dollars above pretty much all else.  There are now *thousands* of example of this.    That kind of hubris very deservedly hurt Microsoft’s reputation and it’s starting to hurt Google’s too, though in fairness they are unlikely to *ever* reach the level of opportunism we saw with Microsoft products and services.   In my book Google remains on balance “good guys” and are likely to stay that way – perhaps even as the competition from and search upstarts heats up.

More on this Anonymity topic  after the feedback here I’m hoping for…

5 thoughts on “Anonymity is so … 1999

  1. We value anonymity in the sphere of political discourse, our “Colonial Rebellion” period having had a great many anonymous pamphleteers, but I see less of a value in permitting commercial speech to be anonymous. With all these male enhancement hucksters out there I see no value in granting anonymity.

    • FG…did you try a product that didn’t work? sorry you left yourself wide open…lol.

      There definitely needs to be an accountability mechanism but people as individuals need to be able achieve privacy if they so wish.

  2. Tangential point here: Google – I’d argue very evil-y and non-Googley – worries far more about certain SEO tweaks that have little impact on users than they do about lying and cheating scammers who deceptively advertise using adwords.

    Yes, but advertisers generally oppose the “Truth in advertising” sort of policy. Ad men, even online ad-men, depend on hype and “sizzle” don’t they. They can’t really move product with mere facts. Corporations don’t want transparency any more than elected officials do.

    That said, anonymity should be considered a right (and I think the EFF has argued as much), at least in regards to individuals’ posting, blogging, comments, etc.

    • You bring up an excellent point about transparency. I think when you have shareholders and/or are spending other people’s money (tax dollars) 100% transparency should be required. That absolutely should be the right of any individual that has money at stake in a venture.

      100% transparency would certainly fix a lot of problems…create some new ones but I would guess the new problems would be much less of an issue than the issues that it would fix.

  3. Hype, sizzle, puffery … these are tolerated. I really can’t recall any Las Vegas casino that didn’t describe their slots as Loose. Its a meaningless term. Dozens of casinos seem to have the loosest slot machines in town!
    And I know one casino that advertises “Where the odds are in your favor”. One wonders how they stay in business if that is the case. Alot of casinos hype these Free Play slots and few who hype the offer will admit that the actal value of the Thousand Dollar Offer is less than five dollars. Often a “Free Gift” is a pair of dice or some other mere trinket hardly worth more than the printed coupon one needs to obtain the gift.

    These are the types of claims that can be made where the identity of the advertiser is known and the advertiser has a valuable license to protect. Is it any wonder we have far worse situations whenever we allow anonymity in commercial transactions conducted across unknown borders.

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