Will the Request for a Poster’s Real Name When Logging Onto YouTube Begin to Remedy the Problem of Internet Defamation?

YouTube is aware that its user anonymity allows for an array of hurtful, judgmental, sexist and racist trolls. The site is now attempting to make users more accountable for their posts and prompting commenters to use their real names when logging in.

This policy change was initiated on June 29, 2012, and gives users the option of using a pseudonym or their real name.  However, this is not a mandatory policy, as users can simply elect not to switch to their real name or simply maintain their YouTube handle.  If a user decides to remain anonymous by clicking a button saying “I don’t want to use my full name,” that user will be directed to a dialogue box that asks them to explain why they do not want to display their real name.  Among the options a user can select for their explanation is “My channel is for personal use but I cannot use my real name,” or “I’m not sure, I’ll decide later.”

Even if a user decides to keep their pseudonym when initially prompted, the site allows users to change their settings at any time if it is eventually decided that they want to use their full name.  However, it is not clear whether new users will have the option of using a pseudonym or if they will be forced to use their real names when registering.

This new policy is part of Google’s (which owns YouTube) attempt at improving Internet posting. 

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