Facebook might experiment with anonymity
Seems like an odd philosophical choice, but as a publicly-traded company, it might be a practical business decision.
Randi Zuckerberg said back in July 2011 when she worked at Facebook:
"I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. ... I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors."
Her claim about people behaving better online when they use their real names is obviously false.
May 2012 Businessweek story
Every Zuckerberg hack is in the service of an overarching vision: that technology and online authenticity can bring people together. And the easier it is for people to find one another, the more time they’ll spend online, sharing photos of their kids, their moods, what they read, who they date, and on and on with all the people they have met in their life (or, if they neglect their privacy settings, with the whole world).
Zuckerberg sought to build a youthful company that could understand and embrace future technological waves as well as bypass generational resistance over sharing and privacy. He believed that Internet users would eventually be less guarded in the way they used the new social services that were popping up online
The openness and lack of privacy viewpoints may have changed for some young people. And quickly too. Maybe that's the reason why Facebook is now looking at supporting anonymity in some fashion.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told a live audience yesterday that if he were to create Facebook again today, user information would by default be public, not private as it was for years until the company changed dramatically in December.
Mark Zuckerberg has always embraced the idea of real identities and openness.
January 2014 Businessweek story
One thing about some of the new [2014 Facebook] apps that will come as a shock to anyone familiar with Facebook: Users will be able to log in anonymously. That’s a big change for Zuckerberg, who once told David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, that “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”
Former Facebook employees say identity and anonymity have always been topics of heated debate in the company. Now Zuckerberg seems eager to relax his old orthodoxies.
“I don’t know if the balance has swung too far, but I definitely think we’re at the point where we don’t need to keep on only doing real identity things,” he says. “If you’re always under the pressure of real identity, I think that is somewhat of a burden.”
Sandberg adds that this won’t happen soon. “We’re never going to charge for the product, and there’s really no ad market” in these low-income countries, she says. “Mark is unapologetic about his idealism. He always said Facebook was started not just to be a company, but to fulfill a vision of connecting the world.”
April 2014 - Re/code - Facebook Explores Anonymity Features
Facebook spent years defining what it means to have an online identity. Now with the surge in popularity of anonymous social apps, Facebook may be spending the next few figuring out how to deal with the complete opposite case.
The social networking giant has expressed interest in exploring how it can develop anonymity services.
This comes at a time when anonymous messaging services have grown more popular. Facebook, Whisper, Secret and others are particularly interested in the types of conversations people feel more liberated to engage in when they no longer need to identify themselves.
That’s attractive for Facebook, which has also tried to mimic the types of conversations found on sites like Reddit or, to some degree, Twitter. But it’s difficult to see how Facebook — a company that has spent a decade building the exact opposite type of anonymous platforms — can accomplish something like this.
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