Free Speech and the Ugly World of Online Commenting

7×7 Magazine published a fantastic article discussing the ickiness of online community commenting and anonymity in this month’s print magazine.

The article is solid, covering the still not-quite-baked realm of online engagement, conversation and identity. I liked the way they handled the common claim of “free speech” by those who want to say naughty things online and get away with it. The article asks: “Can a person claim his civil rights without first claiming his identity?”

Online community maven Heather Champ offers her take on this hot bed topic: “But we have to remember that these sites are businesses and not countries. At a certain point, if you’re letting it all hang out, you’re likely going to hit a fence that somebody’s put up.”

This came up all of the time when I worked at Second Life, where we had created a world where people were able to build completely new identities but still had to abide by the Community Standards (the part of the Terms of Service that governed behavior).

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