'People should be allowed to react to developments openly'
Photo: Index Open

Exposing the talkbackers

Op-ed: Law that exposes talkbackers’ identities proper, would prevent maliciousness

I’m in favor of the Internet serving as a substitute for town square in ancient Greece. I’m in favor of the people speaking out, sharing, whining, explaining, and even cursing. There’s nothing like the Internet, on its various derivatives, to serve as a mouthpiece for the people’s views and thoughts, without filters.


However, just like at the town square in Athens people did not hide behind a wall or a mask, but rather, showed up and expressed their views on various issues on the agenda, the same should be done on the Internet – speaking out openly and transparently without hiding one’s identity.


At this time, this is not the case. Some people use the platform given to them in a hurtful, improper manner. To my regret, some of the readers hide behind the anonymity provided by the keyboard, and instead of presenting their arguments in an orderly, comprehensive and wise manner they express themselves in a racist, ugly and hurtful way.


Instead of explaining their views, these people resort to curses, swearing at others instead of addressing the issues at hand.


Talkbacks on demand

Often when I read talkbacks, I feel a sense of unease. I can sense and smell the guiding hand behind the keyboard; the people who are trying to settle scores anonymously. I can smell the various companies or organizations, including political ones, which seek to smear their competitors and utilize volunteer and paid talkbackers to that end.


I’m personally familiar with one such talkbacker. At night, when everyone is asleep, he sits there at his home or office and writes talkbacks on demand. The payment for this, by the way, is quite handsome.


The new Israeli law that will expose the identity of talkbackers will put the house in order. One would be able to express his views and protest, just like at the town square, but without doing it anonymously and mostly without doing it hurtfully. If one resorts to smearing and libel, it would be possible to identify the talkbacker.


An example of expressing an opinion without hiding can be found on Facebook. People write there, respond, draft posts and status lines, and everything is done openly and with their photos appearing next to their thoughts. This is how it should be.


The people want to react to developments and get involved, and they should be allowed to do so, yet openly; without shame and with the knowledge that one could be traced should he maliciously hurt someone else.


Nechama Duek is a Yedioth Ahronoth journalist



פרסום ראשון: 12.15.10, 11:01
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