There’s Another Zuckerberg

Turns out Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has a sister named Randi. She’s the marketing director for Facebook. Learn something new every day. But the more interesting point is that she has very strong feelings about online anonymity. She’s against it. And she’s certainly not alone. The ability to smear people’s reputations while hiding behind a made up name causes real pain. To Randi’s credit, Facebook requires posters to put their names on posts. That’s certainly Facebook’s prerogative. And even that’s difficult to enforce as a practical matter. But the tougher issue is Randi’s apparent belief that that there should be some sort of regulation essentially outlawing online anonymity. That brings up the whole public/private thing again. Facebook, a private company, can require users to put their names on posts. Facebook isn’t subject to the First Amendment. But if a state or the federal government pass a similar rule, that’s a problem. The First Amendment protects anonymous speech. As it should. I hope it doesn’t sound too flip to say this, but nothing’s perfect. And if an anonymous poster crosses the line – by making a defamatory statement, or threatening someone – there are remedies. But an all-encompassing regulation won’t fly. Whether Randi likes it or not.