Should Anonymous Internet Harassers Be Unmasked?

Recently, several very intense stories of bad internet behavior by anonymous people have led to a new trend: tracking down and revealing who, exactly, these individuals (so far, all men) are.

First up, of course, is the recent and very dramatic unveiling of an infamous Reddit user who went by the name Violentacrez, called by Gawker “The Biggest Troll on the Internet“. He was well known for multiple subreddits including ones that specialized in photos of underage girls either “upskirt” or at pools and the beach (nothing technically illegal, but still damned disgusting.

After his identity was revealed by Gawker as one Michael Brutsch, a programmer at a Texas financial services company, things went badly for him pretty much immediately. He was fired from his job, apologized on CNN, and now is hoping that the porn industry will hire him.

Then, of course, there is the horribly sad story of Amanda Todd, the 15 year old girl that killed herself after intense internet stalking and bullying involving a picture of her chest from when she flashed a friend online.

Anonymous, the hacker group, hunted down and revealed her stalker, a 32 year old former Facebook employee named Kody Maxson. Apparently, Mr. Maxson worked hard to gain Amanda’s trust, then tracked her down again and insisted she give him a “show” online or he’d share the photo of her naked chest with her friends. She refused, and he proceeded to reveal the photo. He continued to stalk her through three different schools, harassing her nonstop. She filmed a heartbreaking video before she suicided.

The question then becomes this: is this the best way to tackle the increasing lousy anonymity of the abusive web? Do you think revealing the identity of these vultures, or trolls, or bullies whatever you want to call them should be public? Will this make people behave more kindly online? I’m not sure, personally, and I’m torn about revealing them without their consent. I’m not sure that makes the revealers any better than the anonymous folks.

What do you think?

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