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Monday February 7 2022, 6pm GMT

Online Anonymity Should Be Banned

History &
Social Policy

Racist slurs, rape threats, sexual harassment. The internet is awash with vile abuse posted by anonymous trolls. The effect is to deter people – especially women and minorities who are most often the subject of attack – from engaging online for fear of the torrent of digital hatred that will ensue, not to mention actual physical attack. To many people there is a straightforward way to deal with this problem: we should remove the cloak of online anonymity by forcing social media companies to impose ID checks on users when they sign up. Users could still use pseudonyms when they communicate but if they engage in hate speech or incitement, their victims would have recourse to the law. 

That would be a mistake, claim those opposed to a ban on anonymity. Social media may appear to be a maelstrom of faceless trolls hurling abuse, but in myriad ways, they argue, the internet is still living up to its original promise to be a place where people can express themselves without judgment, whether it is a gay person from a strictly religious background exploring their indentity in a chatroom or an anxious teenager seeking support from a self-help forum. Online anonymity also allows whistle blowers and activists to speak out without fear of harmful consequences to themselves, and it enables undercover journalists to join groups and expose wrongdoing. 

Would banning online anonymity help rein in the keyboard warriors of social media? Or would it destroy the very essence of the internet? Join us on February 7, hear the arguments and decide for yourself.

Event Name

Online Anonymity Should Be Banned


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Speakers for the motion
  • Margaret Hodge

    Labour MP, former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee and campaigner on women’s rights

Against the motion
  • Jamie Bartlett

    Author and expert on the politics of the internet

Chair
  • Manveen Rana

    Senior investigative journalist and host of The Times and Sunday Times flagship podcast Stories of Our Times


Location
  • Online event
Time
  • Monday 7 February 2022
  • 6pm to 7pm GMT



Speakers

For the motion

Margaret Hodge

Labour MP, former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee and campaigner on women’s rights


Labour MP for Barking and Dagenham since 1994. She held a number of ministerial roles in the last Labour government, with portfolios across education, work and pensions, business and culture, and she served as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee from 2010 to 2015. She identifies as an ethnic Jew, and has been a feminist and campaigner on women’s rights for as long as she can remember. Her exposure to antisemitic and misogynistic abuse online has led her to question the emphasis on freedom of speech as opposed to freedom from harm, with regard to online anonymity. She is a supporter of the government’s Online Harms Bill.
Against the motion

Jamie Bartlett

Author and expert on the politics of the internet


Author and expert on the politics of the internet. He is Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, a collaboration between the University of Sussex and the think tank Demos. He is the author of The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld, Radicals: Outsiders Changing the World, and The People vs Tech. He presented the BBC series ‘Secrets of Silicon Valley’ and in 2019 he wrote and presented the hit BBC podcast series ‘The Missing Cryptoqueen’, which exposed the biggest ever cryptocurrency scandal. He has also turned the story into a book, which will be published in June 2022.
Chair

Manveen Rana

Senior investigative journalist and host of The Times and Sunday Times flagship podcast Stories of Our Times


Senior investigative journalist and host of The Times and Sunday Times flagship podcast Stories of Our Times. She was previously a broadcaster and reporter for BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme and The World at One.