Blog Post

Huffington Post to end anonymous comments

The Huffington Post, which has logged more than 260 million comments in its history, will end anonymity in those comments, founder Arianna Huffington said Wednesday morning.

Arianna Huffington“Trolls are just getting more and more aggressive and uglier and I just came from London where there are rape and death threats,” Huffington said in comments to reporters after a speech at Hubspot’s Inbound 2013 conference in Boston. The changeover will come in mid-September, she said.

“I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and [are] not hiding behind anonymity,” she said. “We need to evolve a platform to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet.”

The current Huff Po system  uses advanced algorithms to moderate comments plus 40 moderators, but that is not enough now, she said.

Whether or not commenters on blogs and news sites should post with their identity — and how that identify is verified — is part of  a long-running debate in the internet age. Many sites have guidelines that allow anonymity but prohibit the use of profanity, threats and other abuses.

59 Responses to “Huffington Post to end anonymous comments”

  1. Evangelical FRD Chap

    This is a huge problem, not only for those who want to post simple comments of appreciation, but even more so for those who want to engage in civil discussion on the challenges that face us in the public square. More and more people are recognizing this problem, and various websites are trying to make changes to address it. We are now in beta testing for The World Table, an online forum and tool that draws upon principles of social psychology to transform bad behaviors of personal engagement in order to result in more civil ways of interaction over our important disagreements. You can read my recent essay on this at http://preview.tinyurl.com/nyb8zxr

  2. trainer3's ghost

    So in the marijuana threads, we can comment and since it’s illegal (it’s still illegal. Booze is legal. The older I get, the sicker I get of stupid laws. Stupid laws give the good ones a bad name.), The Huffington Post wants me to sign my name, forever sealing in cyber-crete a big fat rolling paper over my reputation. So I dumped my 670 fans and deleted my account last month. She is less than honest, indicating lives are threatened on her site, the moderation is iron clad. It’s just an AOL meets hairspray whim, she wants to rule the world. Everybody wants to do that. I only regret I can no longer comment to Alec Baldwin’s posts.

  3. annmariastat

    I think it’s a great idea. I write two blogs (and am a contributor to a third), all have moderated comments because of problems with everything from spam to pornography to trolls. I still get these comments but readers are not exposed to them. And yes, FAR more hateful comments come from the anonymous posters.

  4. Christopher Denoveray

    I am NOT on Facebook nor do I have intention to join Facebook. Therefore, I guess that automatically disallows me from commenting on Huffpost. Conclusion: Why bother even paying any attention to Huffpost at all?

  5. Christina Coad

    It can’t come a day too soon. Nearly every comment any more on Obama stories or any story that has an African American in it is flooded with racist comments. I had to go through THREE pages of comments on a story in the crimes section the other day to find one comment that wasn’t about race.

  6. Sam Golfer

    It’s a challenging problem, but it’s certainly past due for major online entities to require either full moderation or use of actual identity for posting comments

    In the days of newspapers many well known individuals would offer letters to the editor, opinion editorials, essays and such under a pseudonym in order to protect their identity from the authorities. Future-president John Adams authored many such articles prior to the US War of Independence. The main difference is that the newspapers were the gatekeepers and only published what they deemed fit for consumption and they exercised their own editorial biases and philosophies.

    The opportunities of the Internet for granting freedom of expression should come with a small price. Either one submits to full moderation, with the possibility of not being published and missing real-time engagement, or one agrees to publish a comment using one’s real identity. It will decrease the number of comments and maybe some traffic, but the quality of the online dialog will likely make comments more valuable.

    In the end, full moderation is the best option since it allows for more freedom while screening out the worst, but that’s costly and human nature being what it is there are always going to be paid or volunteer moderators with an agenda who are willing to black-hole legitimate comments that don’t happen to agree with their points of view.

  7. Chris Wendt

    Patch tried that and had to reverse course because their readership dropped, some people complained and put forth legitimate reasons for anonymity, while others quickly and easily got around the restriction.

  8. Bad thinking, in my opinion. Not everyone posting as ‘anon’ is a troll, probably most are not, and many may well have a legitimate reason for wishing anonymity – many people work in places, for example, where ‘the bosses’ would take a dim view of their having certain points of view.
    And there are better ways to deal with real trolls, who just intrude into a discussion with the intent of diverting attention away from certain opinions – for example, set up a simple vote mechanism, whereby registered participants, whether using a pen name or otherwise, can vote them out of the discussion, or even out of the forum, for failing to observe decent behaviour and respect for other opinions.

  9. Actually, sometimes I am glad my comment was caught by a moderator. I may have been tired, ill, or just stressed, or perhaps took the comment wrong and on reading it again realized that they meant something else. I would prefer to remain Anon. though. I don’t know that I would want my real name associated with all my candid comments. And speaking of those, I would probably find another website to post.