An unpopular opinion on anonymity and pseudonymity

This topic keeps on giving and, even though I’m a big proponent of anonymity and pseudonymity online, there are things I need to tell all of you. Be aware that you might find my tone aggressive and take it personally. If you do take it personally, I’ll have to say to you what someone else told me: “I’m sorry you feel this way”.

First of all, most of you don’t give a damn about anonymity and pseudonymity online, and you don’t really care about freedom of expression. What matters to you is the “impressive” pseudonymity of your own online persona (in other words, your online trademark or brandname), which you can’t do without; without it, not even you would bother to read your own writings. Now, let’s suppose for a moment that a social network that really allowed freedom of expression and pseudonymity actually existed. You wouldn’t use it. What most of you people want is a medium in which you, and only you, are pseudonymous, while everyone else is transparent, especially to you. How narcissistic is that?

As for the NSA, the GCHQ, the Mossad and whatever other secret services crop up in the discourse on privacy, let me tell you one thing: They don’t give a flying fuck about you. You can bet your bottom dollar that not a single millisecond of your online or offline existence occupies any space in their permanent storage. To them, you are useful only as some sort of statistic reference.

The same goes for your “sensitive private data”; they don’t give a flying fuck about them either. Unless you think you’re the only brony with a massive whale-like penis equipped with Prince Albert piercings chained to your pierced nipples. Or unless you think you’re the only Mormon who faps to photos of iguanas mating. Or unless you think you’re the only SL-famous fashionista, blogger, or what have you.

Facebook doesn’t care much about your name, either. What Facebook doesn’t want is to become a medium that allows freedom of expression and pseudonymity. In which case, should anyone of you get in their radar, their “delete” button is only half an inch away from their finger, so you can be an example to others. And you can be sure this approach works astonishingly well for Facebook.

If, however, any of these “fine people” decide, for whatever reason, to actually give a fuck about you, you can rest assured they’ll nab you, no matter what pseudonym you choose to post your stuff on social media. Even if you’re using your real name. Let’s say you live in a country whose voters were so criminally irresponsible that they elected an alt-right government. Such a government will do everything to suppress democratic voices. But they won’t need to send a black Volga to your home to kidnap you and have you tortured in a Police Department – not that they’re above it. They have “softer” ways of dealing with “annoying” people.

Usually, in collaboration with Facebook’s local content moderation contractors, they’ll harass you if they decide to target you (informed, of course, by a well-trained troll army); the content moderation contractors will start by twisting the ToS and Community Standards to make your experience on the platform as miserable as possible, with one disciplinary action against you after the other. And don’t bother appealing, it won’t matter. That’s state-sponsored targeted abusive social media content moderation. And you have enabled it, by enabling Facebook’s stranglehold on your online social interactions. And don’t think for a single moment Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg give a shit about how their ToS and CS are misinterpreted locally, since they don’t stand to lose any money.

But really, the only ones who really give a fuck about you all the time are the behavioural marketing analytics guys. But their models are so fucked up that, even if they didn’t give a fuck about you, it’d be exactly the same. See the suggested ads that pop up on your Facebook timeline all the time.

No, you are not necessarily spied or snitched upon because you have a nickname. Your nickname is so crappy that it triggers a few hundred thousand algorithms, all over the planet. If your nickname was something like “Jennifer Smith”, you’d have been most likely under the radar. Of if you were a fucking nazi – Facebook always gives them a free pass. Your nickname will only matter to Facebook if someone tells your “friendly”, unaccountable, untransparent local content moderation contractor to blacklist you. But let’s face it, you don’t care that much about using a nickname to express yourself more freely. What you want is a brandname, what you want is a pseudonym, a nom de plume that will differentiate you from the others and bring you more views to boost your ego.

Every language has a finite variety of first and last name combinations. If your chosen pseudonym is significantly different from the norm, you’ll become fodder for the most basic data mining on this planet.

Finally, people have been telling you about the risks from the use of proprietary, non-distributed, unaccountable, untransparent social media providers. So far, you (and even yours truly) have consistently showed you don’t care what they say. And even if you do care, the person next to you doesn’t. And you can’t have a social medium without the “person next to you”.

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