Online Anonymity: Painful and Priceless

The old joke had it that when you're online, "no one knows you're a dog." The idea of online anonymity has been taking a beating recently, in part because of such celebrated cases of fraud as the Gay Girl in Damascus blog, which turned out to have been written by a 40-year-old man in Scotland. Alicia Shepard, former ombudsman for National Public Radio, came out swinging in a piece for the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University against the anonymity of commenters, which she calls "an exercise in faux democracy."

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