Friday Aside: A Return to the Cesspool as the San Bernardino Sun Adopts Disqus Comment System

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

I recently saw this on a news-aggregating website that involves people who comment on news, and other items, using anonymous handles:

Google and Amazon wanting to make me use my real name for everything means I never post reviews of anything anywhere.  Same with newspaper sites requiring you to log in to Facebook and post comments under your real name.

If you take away the anonymity of the Internet you take a way a lot of what makes the Internet great.  I can’t believe that anyone actually posts anything anywhere that doesn’t allow you to use a username.

I don’t understand that mentality, at least for commenting on a website that has journalistic standards for publishing.
When the Sun (and the Redlands Daily Facts) and the Press-Enterprise moved to a Facebook commenting system (that also allowed Yahoo accounts), the quality of the comments increased.  There were still fake accounts, and Yahoo accounts did not require a real name.  I commented at the time the Sun moved to Facebook (but the PE had not):

I don’t often give the Sun enough credit for anything, whether it is in cutting costs by having their reporters double as photographers or by combining multiple beats into one large beat.  However, they deserve credit in that their comments have improved by taking away the anonymity that existed in the old system and replacing it with (for the most part) Facebook (which still has some fake profiles and alts), although Yahoo appears to allow anonymity.  There is less overt bigotry in the comment sections, which is a vast improvement.  . . .

The PE, on the other hand, still allows anonymous trolls, and their discourse is much lower.  Of course, some of the partisans battling on the Sun don’t let the lack of anonymity get in the way of their views. As discourse has been lessened amongst public officials, so too has the discourse of their hyperpartisan followers.  So, say what you want about the Sun’s level of journalism; at least they have cut down on anonymous trolls.  The PE would be well served, just this one time, in copying LANG on this issue.

However, with the redesign, the LANG newspapers they adopted Disqus, which allows usernames that do not reflect new names.  Though most of the frequent commenters are still using their Facebook accounts, there is the potential for abuse.  Cnn.com uses Disqus and other than partisan political sites, it has the lowest-common denominator comments extant on the Internet.
I do not understand how the Sun will not publish a letter to the editor without a real name, but allows anonymous commenting. The Sun should change back to a Facebook-only system.

 

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About Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law
Michael Reiter is a Redlands, California-based lawyer, serving San Bernardino County and Riverside County in Southern California's Inland Empire. Michael Reiter is a lawyer practicing in the following fields of law: Personal Injury Law, Municipal Law, Code Enforcement Law, Small Business Law and Real Estate Law. Michael Reiter practices in all the local courts, including San Bernardino Superior Court, Riverside Superior Court, and the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Michael Reiter was admitted to the California State Bar in 1998. Michael Reiter was Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands, a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, and Staff Attorney for Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino. Michael Reiter serves all of San Bernardino and Riverside County, Orange County, and Los Angeles County. Michael Reiter can be reached at (909) 708-6055, or by electronic mail at michael@michaelreiterlaw.com.

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