It’s Time to End Fake & Anonymous Content on the Web

I’m sick and tired of reading bullshit comments on websites, typically written by uneducated, non-expert people hiding behind a shroud of anonymity offered by the web and forum-based review and rant-oriented sites.

It’s time we hold these sites accountable for pedaling their filth, or better yet, hold the people who write and contribute this brain-less comments more accountable.

Of course I’m talking about the people that to go various websites and quasi-anonymously bash companies, people, products and/or services. This is often done with out merit, supporting facts or any other sources.

The internet, for some reason, has given uneducated, every day people the perception that they are experts on virtually everything. Take WikiPedia for instance. This site gets contributions from millions of people on subjects they are not experts on.

Look at Yahoo Answers for instance… People (not all of them), post legitimate questions on this site (usually because they are too lazy and don’t know how to perform proper research, or don’t really want to seek the truth). However, anyone can answer these questions. And everyone does, providing poor quality answers that lack primary-source references, facts any other data to support the answers.

We need to implement new technology (and laws) that require posters to reveal their true identity. People must be accountable for what they say. If we held people accountable, there would be more civility (because less garbage would be published) and we would be a more productive society that had less hate and animosity.

Have you read the comments on a political story posted to lately? The discussion forums are ridiculous and tragic. It’s a pile of shit, yet Yahoo continues to propagate it. Imagine if you these posters had to reveal their real identity. How many would post the exact same comments? Almost no one.

I propose that the three credit bureaus combine to create a “web verified” identity that people must use when posting comments. It would be backed by the crediting agencies who would verify that you are who you say you are. Then, when you post a review of a restaurant on Yelp, comment on a political story on Yahoo, or review a business on Google Places, you have to sign in with your real identity that explains who you are and what you do.

With such a system in place we would protect kids from being attacked by bullies, businesses from being attacked by anonymous trolls (and give businesses the opportunity to make good on their mistakes), and finally, eliminate a lot of the mud-slinging and lack of civility in our society.

Fake Reviews being Spotted by Cornell's New Software Project
Fake Reviews being Spotted by Cornell's New Software Project (Credit: Myle Ott, Cornell University)

One step in the right direction is a project being conducted by Cornell University software engineers to root out fake reviews. Their experimental technology has proven successful in identifying reviews that lack authenticity. This is another step in the right direction.

(the review on the right is fake – thanks to Eric Smalley and his CNet article)

2 responses to “It’s Time to End Fake & Anonymous Content on the Web”

  1. Brad Collins Avatar
    Brad Collins

    Why do we need a law for this? If there is value in your suggestion of authenticating people on the web, and I believe there is, then websites could start using the technology. Why do we need more laws and bureaucracy to enforce it? The websites that authenticate users and the users of the website can choose to value authenticated reviews, comments, etc…, more highly than non-authenticated content. No legislation needed.

  2. Dan Soschin Avatar

    Technically, we don’t need a law. I agree. The problem is that enforcing the current laws that prevent extortion by sites like and other crap. These sites promote slander and liable under the guise of anonymity which amounts to racketeering in some instances. And it is impossible for small business to defend itself from these dirt bags.

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