The End of Anonymous Online Comments?

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6079_Smith_W

And the time factor; it is a different medium, except for online comment sections which pre-screen. For that matter, even before the internet a person could phone into a call-in show  and lie about his or her identity.

If there is any difference, it is that newspapers and their letters are published as hard copy, and it is seen in a different way because of that. The same rule doesn't apply to online newspaper comments.

 

 

voice of the damned

Just did a google on "name and address withheld letters to the editor", and found this...

Letters should be up to 150 words and may be edited by the Northern Territory News. No letter will be published unless it includes a name and full contact details for verification but you can submit your letter with the request to withhold your name and address.

That's Australia, but I'd imagine they're not the only paper in the world that allows anonymity on their letters page. I'm pretty sure I remember Canadian papers doing that, albeit a while back.  

http://tinyurl.com/bkyojog

 

contrarianna

There are two areas of consideration here. The first being that of absolute anonymity.

There is very little absolute anonymity on a site such as Rabble.
Regardless of what posting or signup name one is uses your IP is being logged.
Though the site itself may have guidelines, it must produce user information on subpoenaed grounds (eg libel suits).
Additionally, user information is easily available to the state (or, states) through other legal and/or illegal means.
To presume that Babble is too innocuous for intrusive monitoring, though reasonable, is wishful thinking.
The nature of a Security State and its many well-funded security agencies is to monitor potential  political enemies as far as the available tools will reach.  The tools readily exist.
No site is immune to hackers, whether state-affiliated or not, and Babble has been hacked several times, at least (as admitted by mods).

Bacchus

Any lawyer can get a subpoena without any difficulty at all. You can fight it (few do) but getting the initial subpoena is childs play

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Sure, there are legal means for authorities to obtain or attempt to obtain information on a user's identity.   But at least in those relatively democratic countries that still have a relatively independent judiciary there is a process by which a subpoena or search warrants can be challenged.

There are also technological means by which one can obtain or at least attempt to obtain a user's identity.

But there is a big difference between that and having to hand over your personal information on a silver platter every time you want to post a comment or engage in an onlilne discussion.

More worrying, are centralized online comment services like Discus.    Many sites are making use of it...including "lefty" publications like Toronto's "Now Magazine".   That means that a single corporate entity has a record of every single comment you've made across multiple websites.  That's creepy if you ask me.

It's bad enough having Facebook, Twitter and Google following me around online.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Tells you your time's not worth it, doesn't it?

clambake

Sun News Viewers don't care about anonymity either way: https://www.facebook.com/snncomments?fref=ts

Unionist

Aristotleded24 wrote:

To play Devil's Advocate, whenever you write a letter to the editor in a newspaper, the paper will always verify that you wrote it and publish your real name. What's the difference between that and requiring people posting comments on public news boards to do likewise?

What's a "public news board"?

The National Post is "public" (in the sense that anyone can read what is posted there) and "private" (it belongs to its owners). If they decide website commenters must use their real names (as newspapers require for letters to the editor), I have no problem whatsoever with that. Being allowed to post there, like having them print your letter, is a privilege. You and I can live without it.

Likewise, babble is "public" and "private" in the same way. If it decides that posters may use pseudonyms - but, they must adhere to a set of politically biased rules or else they can't post - I have no problem with that either. Posting here is a privilege as well.

As I said, I have moderated discussion boards where real names were mandatory. Some of those boards were "public", but most were fully "private" (can't read without being approved for membership).

I thought what we were discussing here, however, is whether privately-owned discussion boards should be legally forced to require the use of real names. That would be offenisve and unacceptable. It's no longer a question of a wouldbe poster losing a privilege. It's now a matter of a community losing the right to discuss and exchange as it wishes.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

In the print world, publications have some practical problems i.e. limited space for a "letters to the editor" section.   So, they get to pick and choose which letters to publish based on whatever policy they have.    They can also "pre-edit" letters to the editor for spelling/grammar or for "brevity".    I'm sure many of us have written great letters to the editor that have been the victims of botched editing jobs.

With data storage costing just about nothing these days ($50 for a terrabyte hard drive), there is no such technical limitation.    Everything can be published and relatively instantly.

Also, on media "comment" sections, participants do indeed argue/debate and yes even engage in trolling.     There's not that much difference in the grand scheme of things between media comment sections and discussion boards.

What's worrying is that the space for anonymous communications is closing off.    Also, the management of "comment spaces" in the mainstream media is being outsourced to centralized data mining companies who "manage" comments/discussion.

The nature of capitalism is to just about always shift towards monopolies or at least oligiopolies.

Server computers keep logs of whatever the server administrator has decided to keep records of.    We need to understand and always remember that.

So, if I want to find out everything that "Unionist" has said over the last ten years across numerous websites, it becomes relatively trivial to run business intelligence software on those server logs to find this out.   And, I only need to go to say two or three data miners.

This is a powerful tool that we are putting into the hands of corporations/governments.   What keeps us safe for now is that the ruling class isn't all that well organized...yet.     In another ten years they probably will be.

The technology that can be used by business to monitor you to try to sell you stuff is "dual purpose".    It can, and is used by intelligence agencies in more repressive societies to figure out what you're up to, what you're thinking etc.

The decisions that are made around net freedom today will have long term implications.

This space manages to keep out most of the trolls/spammers through active moderation.    If a low budget operation like this one can manage to keep things more or less under control through moderation, then the mainstream media can hire folks to do this too.    They have much bigger budgets.

What I see is that we are sacrificing an important thing like privacy so that big media doesn't have to hire folks to moderate their spaces.   I'm not advocating that anyone can post anything anywhere.    If somebody posts something that's offensive, slanderous, libelous or that violates policy, yes indeed they should feel free to delete it.   But real names on everything?   That's a serious problem.

I've become a big fan of Eben Moglen...he's sort of the Noam Chomsky of digital freedom. He's the law professor who successfully battled the U.S. government over public key encryption back in the 1990's.  I think we need to become as familiar with him as we are with Chomsky.

 

 

 

 

Slumberjack

Montreal woman's arrest highlights legal risks of social media

Quote:
The image Pawluck posted online showed Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière, a Montreal police spokesman, with a bullet hole through his head. Pawluck says she only took the picture and shared it but was not the actual vandal.

She was accused of criminal harassment and intimidation against a high-ranking Montreal police officer. Pawluck was picked up by police at her home last Wednesday, questioned for hours and then released on a promise to appear in court.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

This is really quite silly.   The individual concerned merely took a photo of a graffiti drawing.   The graffiti in question contains a violent image for sure, but there's no indication that Pawluck in any way endorsed the actions advocated in the graffiti.

 

 

Slumberjack

This is certainly no endorsement of violence against the police either.  Gestures such as this one merely hint at the level of desperation that exists in the weave of our social fabric.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

If this prosecution results in a conviction, it will certainly have a chilling effect on what people can and can't post online.

But then the free and open web is something that scares the hell out of the ruling elites and so we're seeing increased "net repression".

My other observation is that police were quick to lay criminal harassment and intimidation charges in this incident but require a massive public outcry to lay charges in situations where there is real criminal harassment and intimidation.

 

arborman

If I were forced to post under my real name I would never have been able to participate in babble (not that I have in recent years, but still).  It would have been impossible in the job I held to do so, and it might even be difficult now.  At the time I had a semi-public job for a 'left-leaning think tank' and my public statements needed to be rooted in evidence and policy related to my area of expertise.  There was zero room in public for me to explore the rest of the realm of political and progressive thought, and the anonymity of my handle allowed me to learn and grow in ways that would never have happened were I relegated to mere 'lurking' by a misguided 'real name' policy. 

Case in point: When I first started posting on babble I considered myself a feminist, or at least a male who supported feminist goals.  I still do, but through long and occasionally painful discussions on this forum - some locals will remember them - I know that my understanding of feminism expanded dramatically and in many ways I had not considered.  It likely would not be hard to find an example of me saying something stupid as I learned the extent of my ignorance through the medium of discussion on this forum.  It would be deeply unfair to take something I said 10 years ago out of context, in a heated discussion, and use it against me now (not that there was much, but I'm sure I must have said something stupid about something). 

We never know what situation we might find ourselves in 5 years in the future.  I stand by everything I said as a babbler over the past ten years, at least in the sense that I believed it to be true and fair when i wrote it.  But my opinion in 2003 on many issues is not what it is in 2013.  The sad truth of online conversation is that there is a permanent record of sorts.  There are a million ways I can think of for some future opponent to dig up a partially formed, half completed thought I posted on babble in the heat of the moment ten years ago, and use it to discredit me or (worst case) arrest me.

I had many of the same conversations in person with friends, but none of them are recorded.  What I learned from them I hope made me better, and where I was wrong it won't stand as a record for the ages.

While anonymity allows some people to be arseholes, the solution is not to stifle our freedom to engage in political or other speech and discussion.  There are many reasons to retain our anonymity, and few reasons to give it up.  A right to be free of arseholes seems a bit too difficult to enforce.  And there is no way I would submit any kind of 'request for anonymity' to anyone in hopes of being allowed to remain anonymous - by default that would tell at least one person who I am.

 

arborman

double post, sorry

Unionist

Thread drift, but interesting:

[url=http://jimromenesko.com/2013/05/28/winnipeg-free-press-will-only-let-sub... Free Press will only allow subscribers to post comments starting next week[/url]

Quote:

“We want to keep the party-crashers out so those who’ve paid for the right to be part of the online conversation can do so without being turned off by yahoos spewing vile and bile,” writes editor Paul Samyn.

“The bulk of the ugliness that lands from time to time on our website comes from those abusing the ‘free’ in Free Press to engage in gutter talk or worse on our no-cost forum. In some cases, it appears people will register for a free account just to launch a drive-by smear and then never post again.”

The [url=http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/keeping-the-e-party-going-... announcement[/url] has now become the FP's most-commented story for the month of May, with 1,450 comments as of the time of this post. Haven't read them all yet...

Oh, and subscribers will still be allowed to choose between their real names or pseudonyms.

 

6079_Smith_W

"abusing the free".

That's an interesting spin on it.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

aborman, I'm sorry I missed your post earlier. It's fantastic. Thank you for sharing!

ETA: In fact, it's earned you a place in the hall of fame

Fidel

radiorahim wrote:

In the Moglen video I linked to above, he talks about this generation possibly becoming the last generation that can read without being under surveillance, that can listen to audio or watch video or search for information or I would add, make an online comment without someone in the middle keeping track of what we're doing.

Perhaps he's right about reading without our thoughts being gleaned by the corporatized state. But millions of us are under surveillance now and have been for a long time.

None of the KGB, STASI, BRAC, SAVAK, DINA etc ever dreamed of possessing the technology being used today to spy on the lives of millions of ordinary people.

Marx had the right idea. We have to take possession of and democratize it all.

All of it!

That means abolishing NATO, NSA, CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, CSIS, MI6, BND, DGSE, SISMI, ISI, Mossad etcetera ad nauseum. They are cold war era relics that have no legitimate purpose and want scrapping for all time.

No point in obsessing over bits and pieces of it. The fascist/corporate surveillance apparatus is constant and pervasive in the mean time.

The glasnost is about one-third full.

Fidel

Slumberjack wrote:

I routinely ignore rules about non-work related internet access while on the clock.  Quite a few of my online 'rage against the machine' type comments originate from work in fact.

I think that in the U.S. the NSA is mainly interested in prominent dissidents , anti-war groups, and environmentalists. Since corporatizing the newz media the fascists no longer fear left wing political movements or democracy in general.

Have you been to any protests in Canada lately? We know that "Al Qaeda" and other mercenaries are not on their radar. Socialists, social activists and peaceniks are a lot more interesting for them than fake terror groups we can be sure.

Slumberjack

Well, there's certainly a pile of issues to protest about around here, but it seems that by and large people have given up on the bended knee approach to having their concerns addressed by the political establishment.  A fair number of ingrates don't even vote for their own submission when they're called upon.  As a result I've often thought about getting an online movement off the ground to encourage people far and wide to shed their addiction to political parties, and to share in the ways and means of draining that particular swamp.

Slumberjack

I routinely ignore rules about non-work related internet access while on the clock.  Quite a few of my online 'rage against the machine' type comments originated from work in fact.

Rhetorical Saboteur

...

 

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Huffington Post to end anonymous comments

The Huffington Post which has logged more than 260 million comments in its history will end anonymity in those comments, founder Arianna Huffington said Wednesday morning.

“Trolls are just getting more and more aggressive and uglier and I just came from London where there are rape and death threats,” Huffington said in comments to reporters after a speech atHubspot’s Inbound 2013 conference in Boston. The changeover will come in mid-September, she said.

“I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and not hiding behind anonymity,” she said. “we need to evolve a platform to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet,” she said. The current Huff Po system  uses advanced algorithms to moderate comments plus 40 moderators, but that is not enough now, she said.

 

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Huffpoo could use paid moderators the way rabble does here.   Huffpoo is now owned by a big media conglomerate and so it's not like they couldn't afford to do it.

But no doubt corporate digital sweatshop that they are, they'll farm out their "comments" section to various data mining services like Facebook, Twitter, Disqus etc.

Rabble/babble has nothing to learn from Huffpoo.    Huffpoo has lots to learn from rabble.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Totally agree with you, radiorahim. One has to wonder how they plan to authenticate the identity of commentators? Obviously, "red hater" or "mad hatter" are not real names but what about John Doe or Jane Smith?

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Have a look at the so-called "privacy policy" for Disqus which is used by many media outlets, even so-called progressive outlets.

With data mining and the use of business intelligence software if I know A, B, D, F and G about you then I can probably figure out C, E and H.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture
Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Great article!

grog

Slumberjack wrote:

Montreal woman's arrest highlights legal risks of social media

Quote:
The image Pawluck posted online showed Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière, a Montreal police spokesman, with a bullet hole through his head. Pawluck says she only took the picture and shared it but was not the actual vandal.

She was accused of criminal harassment and intimidation against a high-ranking Montreal police officer. Pawluck was picked up by police at her home last Wednesday, questioned for hours and then released on a promise to appear in court.

WOW. she appears in court for posting a pic of a bullethole on a cops head, but the cops can put a real hole through her skull and walk away with a slap on the hand in most circumstances.

Unionist

This was foreseeable - might be a "game-changer" (I hate that expression! sorry):

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/cbc-comments-policy-anonymou... announces end to anonymous online comments[/url]

 

Slumberjack

That's too bad about the CBC's new comment policy.  Not that it concerns me because I'm not a participant there, but I've often felt that the CBC's online comments section in particular has served a purpose as a good platform on which to showcase the absurdity of the political establishment, the respective followers, activists, paid hench-persons, those who do it for free; etc.  It's better if people bear witness to the vulgarity put before them so that they may better understand for themselves what it is they're being shown.....if anyone can stand it for that long.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

I have no problem with that....It will probably deter people who post racist and offensive under the cloak of anonimity anjd comment sections will be readable.

Pondering

alan smithee wrote:

I have no problem with that....It will probably deter people who post racist and offensive under the cloak of anonimity anjd comment sections will be readable.

It will also deter women from posting. I would never post under my real name unless it was about recipes or something else inoculous. Some men might not want their employers knowing their political affiliation.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Pondering wrote:

alan smithee wrote:

I have no problem with that....It will probably deter people who post racist and offensive under the cloak of anonimity anjd comment sections will be readable.

It will also deter women from posting. I would never post under my real name unless it was about recipes or something else inoculous. Some men might not want their employers knowing their political affiliation.

I don't know...If I have to comment using my real name,it won't change any posts I have made in the past or the future. I don't care who knows I'm a socialist,I don't care who knows I'm anti-prohibition and I don't care who knows what political parties I support...I don't care.

As a woman,why should you?

lagatta

I can tell you that the "real name" thing there is not enforced as strictly as on Facebook.

I have the same kind of problem with it; I've been very seriously harassed and threatened on the Net. But the alternative - serious moderation by a CBC staffer who is aware of the issues at hand - would cost them too much, and the farmed-out moderaton seems utterly random. There is a lot of hatred there: anti-Indigenous (though Indigenous stories are no longer open to comments), anti-francophone (Montréal angryphones, anglo New Brunswickers...) and of course anti-refugee, anti-Arab/Muslim etc. And the generally reactionary bigoted post-Rob-Ford types.

In French, such people are more likely to inhabit the Journal de Montréal boards, and doubtless others (Radio-X) that I've never looked at.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Racists will post racist crap because they are racist. Making them use their real name when they have a Confederate flag bumper sticker on their truck seems like an exercise in futility. Good moderation is the only way to keep racist comments off the internet. 

The CBC runs a lot of articles and pieces on its media that seem designed to stir the pot and they invite those kinds of posts. The morning show host in Vancouver was especially bad. He would put his slant on stories and often my wife and I would look at each other and go just wait for the feedback it will be obnoxious. You reap what you sow and the CBC plants a lot of imperial brand seeds that beg for a racist watering to make them grow to their full potential.

Pondering

alan smithee wrote:

As a woman,why should you?

Because men who disagree with women rape them or otherwise assault them to teach them a lesson. If they don't have the guts for that they can just hound a woman across all social media platforms until she erases her presence.

Thanks but no thanks.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Pondering wrote:

alan smithee wrote:

As a woman,why should you?

Because men who disagree with women rape them or otherwise assault them to teach them a lesson. If they don't have the guts for that they can just hound a woman across all social media platforms until she erases her presence.

Thanks but no thanks.

You're entitled to an opinion. Honestly,without the cloak of anonymity ,a lot of these jerks would shut their faces. People have a tendancy to use language they wouldn't dare use face to face. They are keyboard warriors. Take off their masks and they disappear.

Unionist

Alan, anonymity isn't just for jerks. I support Pondering's point, and there are many other examples that could be given. This might be a good time to re-post Bob Chandler's excellent 2013 blog post:

[url=http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/radiorahim/2013/08/defence-online-anonym... defence of online anonymity[/url]

 

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Good article. It changes my opinion. My personal rule is to ignore comment sections. I learned my lesson some years ago being trolled by a far right asshole. I was so pissed and enraged,I gave out my address begging him to meet me face to face.

In the end,that's a bad idea. So now I just avoid them.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I wonder how they intend to enforce this (and I assume that challenge is probably why they say "this is coming... some time" rather than implementing it immediately).

Thing is, short of visiting me in person, I can't really see how they can verify that the name I give is my actual name.  Will they send me a "verification" e-mail?  No problem for me -- I have a couple of "junk" e-mail accounts for just that sort of thing.  Will they demand an "institutional" address, like quincy.magoo@utoronto.ca, or qmagoo@rogers.com?  They'd be excluding everyone whose job doesn't provide them with an e-mail address.  Will they verify by phone?  Go ahead and call me to verify that I'm really Quincy Magoo -- my pay-by-the-minute plan doesn't list my name anywhere, and of course I'll say I'm Quincy Magoo.  Now what?

My bet is that this isn't going to "out" anyone by their real name, but will certainly put an end to "sexy_hot_dude" or "I_hate_Libs" or whatever, but look for an uptick in "John Doe"s and the like.

voice of the damned

^ The only thing is, if you try to make the name sound plausible(as opposed to John Doe or Schlocky MacWanker), you run the risk of someone else getting harassed because of your posts.

Let's say I register under a fake name, and post a bunch of inflammatory garbage. If someone with that name as his real one ends up getting his car torched as a result of someone thinking he's me, well, I'm guessing that could lead to a police investigation. An investigation which might end up with the cops calling CBC and saying "Is there any way you could tell us where that commenter with the fake name is posting from?" And I'm kinda guessing there is.

Even if I wasn't intentionally pretending to be that particular guy, having the cops come to my door and say "A guy got his car torched because someone thought he was you" is probably gonna be a bit of a buzzkill.

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I wonder how they intend to enforce this (and I assume that challenge is probably why they say "this is coming... some time" rather than implementing it immediately).

Thing is, short of visiting me in person, I can't really see how they can verify that the name I give is my actual name.  Will they send me a "verification" e-mail?  No problem for me -- I have a couple of "junk" e-mail accounts for just that sort of thing.  Will they demand an "institutional" address, like quincy.magoo@utoronto.ca, or qmagoo@rogers.com?  They'd be excluding everyone whose job doesn't provide them with an e-mail address.  Will they verify by phone?  Go ahead and call me to verify that I'm really Quincy Magoo -- my pay-by-the-minute plan doesn't list my name anywhere, and of course I'll say I'm Quincy Magoo.  Now what?

My bet is that this isn't going to "out" anyone by their real name, but will certainly put an end to "sexy_hot_dude" or "I_hate_Libs" or whatever, but look for an uptick in "John Doe"s and the like.

Huffington post tried to do it through requiring verified Facebook accounts and I think suckered a lot of people. At the time Facebook was requiring cell phone numbers which I didn't have at the time.  I came here instead. A year or so later I discovered that all of my fake facebook accounts were considered "verified" even though all I ever gave was email addresses.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Unionist wrote:

Alan, anonymity isn't just for jerks. I support Pondering's point, and there are many other examples that could be given. This might be a good time to re-post Bob Chandler's excellent 2013 blog post:

[url=http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/radiorahim/2013/08/defence-online-anonym... defence of online anonymity[/url]

 

Thanks for that link, there were some very cogent points made (especially in this post-Snowden era).  

But there are others.  We flatter ourselves in thinking we live in a society with "freedom of speech." Technically, that may be true, but it is a very circumscribed freedom if you want to challenge the powers that be.  I don't spend much time on CBC or other comment sites (especially news outlets) because I consider most of them a waste of time, BUT when there's an issue I care passionately about, and about which I am more than usually knowledgeable, I like on occasion to try to counter the gross misrepresentation of facts (or the misleading omission of facts) that the online source may contain. Anyone who doesn't already know it should look up the late  Michael Crichton's insightful speech "Why Speculate?" in which he outlines an invaluable meme he terms the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect. Here's a brief quote where he defines it:

(the whole can be found here: [url]http://larvatus.com/michael-crichton-why-speculate/[/url])

Quote:

Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.

I find a lot of those sorts of articles in the media about issues with which I have an in-depth knowledge and on which I know the "facts" as presented  are skewed, erroneous or misleading. Occasionally I will post a comment, with a link (if possible) to a better-informed or informational source for those with a real interest in the facts (I hope there are some). I do this under a psudonym (would you believe, infracaninophile, LOL).  The topics usually revolve around some social justice or poverty issue that I personally am well informed about.

Will I do the same if I have to use my real identity? No.

It was made clear in one of my recent places of employemtn (a public service, by the way) that employees could not publicly criticize the policies or actions of the employer in public, as individuals. There were internal or organizational ways to try to effect change, but public criticism was potentially a disciplinary matter. While I did not fear being fired (I doubted it would come to that) I knew of a number of cases where those who ignored this were subjected to petty harrassment, administrative changes in job or job description that were suspicious, denied promotions or transfers to another location, and on and on. I wanted to focus my energies on getting services for those i considered my responsibility, not on fighing the suits. It's emotionally and physically draining to engage in internecine warfare in the workplace. I would feed info to others, when appropriate, to share from the outside, but I wouldn't speak out on a public forum because doing so would hinder my ability to get the job done for the peoiple I cared about.

That hasn't changed. I'm working in a different locale now but would still be very careful about posting criticism from within. The "system" has various ways to make life difficult for its critics. I see this requirement to use one's real identity as just one of many and increasing ways of stifling legitimate dissent and whistleblowing.

 

 

 

Unionist

Great post, infracaninophile (or whatever your real name is lol)! Just reading it again. Thanks so much for sharing that.

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