There are important reasons to support online anonymity and equally good reasons to oppose it.
“I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.”
Zuckerberg’s observation is correct, people DO hide behind anonymity to say and do all sorts of nefarious things.
On the other hand, privacy and free speech advocates are correct when they argue that anonymity is necessary to protect certain individuals like whistleblowers and those living in unsafe conditions or politically repressive regimes.
Certain groups are particularly vulnerable to online hostility and attacks, such as children, GLBT, victims of domestic abuse, people from a persecuted religious or cultural minority, and others. The question of whether to support or oppose online anonymity is context-specific — it depends on the particular facts and situation involved — and the issue should’t be approached with a overly simplistic either/or stance.
At CiviliNation, we strongly believe that anonymity as an option needs to be preserved to help protect certain vulnerable and at-risk members of society, but that many people engaging online anonymously or under pseudonyms do so for less-than-honorable reasons in order to avoid responsibility and accountability for their hurtful actions. It’s the latter group that should not be allowed to misuse anonymity and pseudonymity for hateful, socially unacceptable, or legally actionable purposes.