Huffington Post ends commenter anonymity because ‘trolls are getting more aggressive’
The Huffington Post is to end anonymity for commenters by requiring them to use their real identities. The change was announced by the site’s founder, Arianna Huffington, after speaking at a conference yesterday (21 August) in Boston.
She said: “Trolls are just getting more and more aggressive and uglier and I just came from London where there are rape and death threats.”
Explaining the “need to evolve a platform to meet the needs of the grown-up internet,” she said: “I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and not hiding behind anonymity.”
HuffPo is reputed to have logged more than 260m comments in the course of its existence. It has 40 moderators and also uses algorithms to track comments.
The initiative was confirmed in an email to Poynter by HuffPo spokesperson Rhoades Alderson, who said the site’s current moderators “will be freed up to engage more with the community, facilitating the kinds of productive conversations our community members want to be having.” Gigaom’s reporter, Barb Darrow, wrote: “Whether or not commenters on blogs and news sites should post with their identity — and how that identify is verified — is part of a long-running debate.”
Indeed it is. Many sites have attempted to enforce the identity of users through a registration system based on verification by credit card.