Arianna Huffington Speaks Out on Anonymous Comments & Freedom of Expression

Friday, August 23, 2013

Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, poses for a portrait at the National Press Club, July 15, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Albert H. Teich/Shutterstock)

Readers leave approximately 270,000 comments at every day.

But anonymous comments are no longer welcome. Beginning next month, the online news site will require users to comment on stories using their real names.

Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, says the site has garnered more than 260 million comments since it launched in 2005. According to Huffington, the reversal in policy is a move to promote civil conversations.

"It became clear that in order to maintain the kind of civil environment for conversations that we want we would need to end anonymity," Huffington tells The Takeaway. "We realize that ending anonymity does not mean ending negative commenting—but it does mean substantially reducing it."

The site will require a Facebook login to comment, forcing users to identify themselves. Current users will be grandfathered in and will be able to continue commenting as they are, for the most part.

"If they use ad hominem attacks or a comment that would not be allowed, in that case they'd have to identify themselves through a Facebook login," Huffington says. "Anonymity brings out the worst in people—we see that again and again."

Huffington joins The Takeaway to explain the company's decision.



Arianna Huffington

Hosted by:

John Hockenberry

Produced by:

Cassie Jones and Jen Poyant


T.J. Raphael

Comments [7]

Vito Positano from Italia

The Huffington Post now seems to be practicing a Fascist policy, which is analogous to "Show me your papers."

"Trolls" is a derogatory term for chatters who merely disagree with the article's thesis or disagree with a commenter – comparable to the practice of jury nullification used to nullify a bad law such as a prohibition to smoke pot – and who know of an ethical way to steer the thesis and the conversation into a better direction. I see nothing wrong with this. It requires skill in logic to slice and dice bad writing. It also affords one practice in using logical reasoning.

The opposite is to agree with the thesis or develop it further. That's often no fun as it diminishes creative expression, something I value very much. I willingly put up with inarticulate responses, ad homs, and non sequiturs.

And, by the way, I will never be forced to sign in with that terrible NSA tool, Facebook, as well as give out my phone number to it.

Mar. 08 2014 06:21 PM

I've been an frequent reader and poster to Huffington Post, but no more! Why should I or anyone be forced to give more private information to facebook so they can turn-around and sell it to advertisers?

And what's the issue here? People are routinely declined jobs or fired for their posting on social media because their comments aren't politically would have to be crazy to post comments using your real information, especially on Huffington Post where they regularly filter-out comments that go against their liberal grain: Instead of encouraging dialogue they just want to stifle those views they disagree with.

The out-of-control political correctness being forced on everyone today is exactly the same reason people formed secret societies before..

Dec. 29 2013 04:26 PM

Out of the blue Huffington Post has decided that not only do you need to register with them, you also have to sign in using your Facebook account. If you don't then you can't comment; you can only "fav and fan" other signed-in members. On Huffington Post's FAQ page they state:

Q: Why do I need to link my Facebook account to create a Huffington Post account?

A: In order to allow people to express their ideas in a civil and responsible manner, we require our users to verify their identities by linking to a verified Facebook account.

Sounds good, makes sense but if you are not a member of Facebook then your association with Huffington Post is over. If you petition Huffington Post requesting you be allowed to sign on, bypassing Facebook, you still have to send them a link to your Facebook page. You still must be a member of Facebook. For those of us who are not interested in Facebook, our association with Huffington Post has abruptly come to an end.

Dec. 18 2013 01:10 PM
unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA

I mostly post anonymously. I try to be civil and on point. Sometimes not - rarely.

I don't think knowing names will necessarily change that. People inclined to be negative, mean, distracting, may likely be so inclined whether or not they use their real name if it's in their nature. And vice versa. anonymity isn't in and of itself
mean, negative or vindictive. Depends on the individual.

My wife once posted her name on her purse so as to be able to identify it if need be
(misplaced, lost, stolen) in a road trip. First stop, vendors came on board. Every
other word was her name. Good idea, bad outcome.

There can be downsides to being identified as well.

Just because people know who you are and you know who they are, doesn't necessarily mean conversations or interactions will be more civil.

I think regardless of the system used, it comes down to the degree, the extent to which incivility, meanness, and negativity are tolerated and if not the actions that
are taken as a result.

Generally speaking, piling on, trolling, and all the other nasties aren't tolerated and are USUALLY dealt with swiftly and severely.

And there's USUALLY a good overall barometer for the thoughtful vs the thoughtless.

Westboro baptist church, I would think is an excellent case in point. We know who they are, we see them at work. I don't think many, if any, take them seriously. And they are sanctioned by the Supreme Court no less in their actions.

Left to our own devices, I think we're generally smart enough to figure it out.

Aug. 24 2013 05:23 AM

Decent moderators would have the same effect. This should be interesting. Facebook continues to dominate the internet world.

Aug. 23 2013 07:31 PM
Chris Maniscalco from saylorsburg PA

I comment there every day,,,and sometimes it is out of control with the
hateful,,bigoted,,and racist remarks,,I for one welcome it,,hopefully it
will curb that, I have no problem attaching my name to my remarks,,,others
will think not

Aug. 23 2013 02:53 PM
Mr. Wakiki from NYs

I understand the need to stop the negativity, but ignoring that almost all anonymous sources do so to be negative, to get back at someone is kind of foolish on Ms. Huffington's part.

Aug. 23 2013 09:30 AM

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