July 7, 2010

Why I’m in favor of anonymity

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I know, it seems ridiculous for me to say that I back internet anonymity when I blog under my maiden name and tweet with a derivation of it. Part of the reason that I use it for my blog is that it is my maiden name. I don’t have my address under this name, cell phones… or even anything that one could use to trace me prior to when I got married.

I use it for writing and artwork because it’s who I started off writing as. Thankfully now, it’s given me the opportunity to be able to separate my life as Mrs. TheBoy and Mommy from the Fabulous WhitneyD. Which is nice. I can tweet vaguely about my personal life without worrying that strangers might find my husband and know things about our life. (This is also why I don’t blog or tweet about anything that’s too personal)

In addition, I’ve been stalked in the past. The first time was in high school, there was a young man who was interested in me that went to great lengths to tell me of this. After I informed him that I was no interested, he made it very clear that he would be wherever I was, he would be there. And he was. It wasn’t a harmless crush, as the school and his mother said. At Disneyland, there were a few annual passholders that would figure out what my schedule was and would show up. (All but one of them was harmless. The other one, well, my managers went to lengths to keep him away from me and the other women he stalked in the park.)

These were things that all happened before the internet was readily available. My name wasn’t out there, with addresses and whatnot. If any one of those things happened today, it is entirely possible that they would be able to find out where I live, where I visit… not good at all.

So why am I bringing this up? I’ve already said that people should try to lock their Facebook account down as tightly as they can. Because Blizzard- who I paid plenty of money to playing “World of Warcraft” has announced that when it introduces its Cataclysm event, their forums will begin using the full names you registered your accounts with.

This is a problem. While it would eliminate people having multiple accounts with the sole purpose of promoting themselves online, it suddenly exposes real identities to trolls and internet bullies. It exposes the real name of that cute girl in the guild who goes by a pseudonym to keep the creeps at bay. Those geeky celebs who play Warcraft like Felicia Day or Mila Kunis? Don’t expect them to ever post on the forums in the future, or to stick around the game in general.

They seem to think that it’ll force people to behave responsibly if their name is attached to it, but honestly? People are jerks on Facebook under their own names. While yes, it will expose who the jerks really are- at the same time, all it’s going to do is make a lot of people think twice about participating in a discussion because they know that they could be putting themselves at risk of harrassment in the real world. And nobody plays Warcraft for that.

I admit, I miss the days that I wrote fanfiction under my pseudonym and blogged about every aspect of my life on LJ using that name because I knew that nobody would find me. It was freeing, that I could separate those aspects of my life. As much as I enjoy blogging here under my name, part of me misses that freedom. (I do occasionally write fanfiction, but it stays saved on my computer) However, I remember deleting email addresses (I’ve always used multiple ones to keep the creeps at bay) and changing screennames because of unwanted attention from people. And I have been grateful that at the most, they only knew that my name was Whitney and that I’m from CA. Hard to pick out the exact Whitney from that information.

If you happen to play a Blizzard game, have in the past, or plan to- please… please do your part and let them know that this is the wrong decision. It’s one thing to make a unified account that any game links to- it’s another to force everyone to do it under their real name.

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