An ongoing argument people who proclaim to know what’s best is that anonymous social media accounts are dangerous, and to combat that danger we need to require verified ID for having a social media account. I am once again saying no, social media should not require verified ID you lunatics.
Anonymity on the internet garnered one of the most wonderful environments in human history, a place where anyone from anywhere could meet and talk with other strangers, online. You could speak your mind, browse the collective knowledge of mankind, and get into furious debates over whether Creedance Clearwater Revival is truly a redneck band despite coming from the Bay Area.
As a teen and then a young adult, being able to browse the internet anonymously was a crucial part of the experience. Being anonymous, you could safely protect your personal identity because in those days – the internet was new and scary, your parents warned if people knew your real name they could find you in real life and hurt you.
While real life confrontations from internet debates and shitposting rarely happened, armchair warriors now seek to destroy their enemies if they hold differing viewpoints. What was once the last bastion of true freedom and freedom of expression is now being heavily policed and worse, influential people want to force you to provide credentials before sending out that shitpost.
If the concept of verifying your legal identity before posting memes on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t scare you, you should be scared because the implications of what this would mean for western society are already in place. China has infamously had their social credit system implemented now, and Silicon Valley technocrats are frothing at the mouth to implement that here.
In short, the social credit system is a state-funded and mandated system to monitor if people can be trusted, “rewarding” people for acting as “good citizens” and punishing those who act poorly. Examples for acting poorly include failing to pay off debt or being arrested for a crime, each would lower your social credit score.
What do punishments for “bad citizens” look like under such a social credit system? Punishments include bans from international flights, trains, hotels, throttling internet speeds, being publicly named as “bad citizen,” and even literally reducing you to a servant class by banning you or your children from higher education.
Requiring verified ID for a social media account opens the door for tech oligarchs to simply go one step further and implement a social credit system. While the financial credit score system is generally a means for lenders to gauge whether or not you can afford a loan, the social credit system is a means to subjugate dissent and outliers from the dominant powers.
The main argument behind requiring verified ID for a social media account is thus: users that are forced to use their real identity to post things online will generally stop being assholes. As we’ve seen in practice, this is definitely not true and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook selectively enforce their terms of service – usually to punish their opponents and obfuscate allies.
The advertising duopoly between Facebook and Google controls the vast majority of all online and digital advertising. They control it all and even their competitors source their ads from their networks. Both Facebook and Google have already begun demonetizing content based on what they deem inappropriate comments from users.
Typically companies like Facebook and Google will only step in to moderate or ban users when politicians threaten them with new laws or when their bottom line is threatened, or both. In the case of YouTube demonetizing videos for comments, it was because legions of pedophiles were using videos of kids to share comments and info for child pornography.
If you follow the money, typically advertisers are very cautious to allow their ads on sites or platforms that allow pure unfiltered discourse. This leads to Facebook and Google blanket banning users and/or topics they deem too risky for advertisements – and it has led to more platforms and websites heavily policing and in some cases even shutting down comments altogether.
Social media and tech companies have also tried other means to stifle anonymous users by introducing things like shadowbanning, where a user is effectively made invisible to all others and they have no idea when or why it happened. This goes alongside the aforementioned double standard for moderation, where social media tends to punish dissent and reward approved groupthink.
The old internet is looked back upon fondly by those who experienced it because it was truly freedom. Being anonymous was not only expected but it was encouraged, and the very same people that are demanding everyone have verified ID are typically the first to want you destroyed for voting for who them deem is the wrong person. These people are usually “verified” influencers or pundits.
Cancel culture is at the core of this debate, many who ascribe to the group that currently occupies all power centers of our civilization cheer on cancel culture to their enemies but bemoan it when they or their allies are cancelled. The difference is when they get cancelled social media companies listen and quickly reinstate them – specified dissenters are unpersoned from the internet.
The end goal for both requiring verified ID for social media and eventually a social credit system is to destroy the enemies of the powers at be. The Chinese government literally stated their plan would “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven” while “making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”
We try not to get political here on Niche Gamer as we are an enthusiast gaming site, however the outright lie that verified social media accounts are pushing with requiring verified ID is disgusting. They don’t want to make the internet safer, they want to make it less free and more policed so they can get you denied for a mortgage or a job because you posted a pepe meme six years ago.
If you still don’t see the dangers in requiring verified ID for social media, I’m not sure what else to tell you. There are people out there that will literally believe anything the television tells them, so if they are told requiring verified ID for posting memes online will make the internet better and safer, they’ll do it and drop their anime avatar for their legal identity.
In the end those same people currently screaming for more accountability for trolls posting inappropriate memes will act shocked and outraged when they get fired for “culturally insensitive” jokes they made on Twitter back in 2011. They have created an environment, which by design anything they deem inappropriate leads to punishment and there are no paths to redemption.
This is an editorial piece. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.