Jay Smooth: ‘Anonymous comments are a harm-reduction program for trolls.’

By Megan Carpentier
Friday, May 25, 2012 12:27 EDT
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While anonymous (or, really, pseudonymous) comments are on the outs everywhere from Politico to TPM because of bullying and straight-up trolling, Ill Doctrine’s Jay Smooth takes New York legislators to task for an effort to make them outright illegal. Though it is important to find ways to limit cyberbullying, in which anonymous commenters often engage, Smooth notes that making anonymous comments illegal violates the First Amendment, which protects even anonymous speech from government interference.

Furthermore, he says, the authors’ intent appears to be to help companies and politicians alike police criticisms on the Internet, which is a slippery slope no one should want the government going down. But, most importantly, Smooth suggests that taking away anonymous Internet denizens ability to troll could mean that the rest of us have to deal with those people in real life instead of having our interactions with them mediated by technology — and no one wants that.

Watch the video, first posted to AnimalNY on May 25, 2012, below.

Megan Carpentier
Megan Carpentier is the executive editor of Raw Story. She previously served as an associate editor at Talking Points Memo; the editor of news and politics at Air America; an editor at Jezebel.com; and an associate editor at Wonkette. Her published works include pieces for the Washington Post, the Washington Independent, Ms Magazine, RH Reality Check, the Women's Media Center, On the Issues, the New York Press, Bitch and Women's eNews.
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