Anonymity is the scourge of the social media.

Tired of the constant and clearly biased censorship being practiced by Twitter, many conservatives are beginning to make the move to a new platform called Parler.

Parler is very similar to Twitter in its operation and means of interaction. There are different terms for different actions but it is much the same thing as Twitter. It is a form of short form discussion and sharing of stories and events.

Parler stands apart in its dedication to support free speech as much as possible. No more shadowbanning or outright banning of accounts that may stray from the accepted dogma of the platform. That alone makes Parler an attractive option for tired conservative minded commentators.

The thing that makes me most optimistic about Parler though is that they have created measures to deal with the anonymity issue.

Nothing makes a keyboard coward tougher than the security blanket of anonymity. Twitter has become known as a cesspool of negative dialog and most of that is driven by the nearly endless stream of belligerent, anonymous accounts.

It is striking how quickly anonymous internet tough guys turn into sniveling kittens when they suddenly have to post under their own name.

Canada had a great example as Neil Waytowich rampaged throughout twitter. He tirelessly trolled accounts and spewed endless profanity laced attacks against public figures online while he hid behind his anonymous identity of “Neil Before Zod”. He prided himself on being blocked by other twitter users and he poisoned countless discussions through his toxic interjections.

Waytowich finally annoyed folks enough that they began to search out who he was. A publication called Blacklock’s Reporter figured out who Neil was and outed him. .

The change in behavior from Neil was immediate. Upon having been exposed, he was suddenly meek and apologetic. In media interviews he was seen to be something of a pathetic figure. He was nothing without his cloak of anonymity and has been nothing since.

Unfortunately, there are still millions of anonymous accounts out there and while Waytowich was a prolific one, his outing did little to improve discourse on Twitter as a whole.

Twitter has a verification system but they only apply it to accounts which they consider to be in the “public interest”. How exactly that is defined is muddled and only one in thousands of Twitter accounts managed to acquire that precious blue checkmark of verification.

I have proven quite effectively that one can still be an abrasive asshole without hiding behind anonymity. That said, with my account being verified I have to stand behind my words.

Parler offers account verification for everybody. It involves sending them a picture of your ID along with a selfie. I am not sure if it is working for Canadian ID yet but I have sent mine in.

One can still keep their name private on Parler while being verified. Many folks need to due to employment constraints. It still will strongly discourage folks from posting threatening or illegal things as they know that in extreme cases, they will be tracked down. It also keeps users from spawning a whole pile of accounts. While they may create many accounts, only one will ever be verifiable.

It makes a huge difference when people have even a little skin in the game.

I used to play online poker. When playing in the free tournaments, the play was unbearable. Other players didn’t care about the game and they simply went all in with every hand. When paying only one dollar to enter a tournament however, the play changed incredibly. With simply registering a form of payment and in spending a buck, people suddenly took the game more seriously.

The same stands for internet discourse. When one has invested the time and trouble to verify a personal account, they will take it more seriously than a burner account that they created on a whim. Bots can’t effectively verify either.

Will this make internet discussion totally civil or deep? Of course not but it will make it far better.

I do hope to see left leaning people starting to drift into these new platforms as well. If debates are reasonably civil, they can be productive. This is nearly impossible with Twitter right now which has become a mire of white noise.

I do hope that this migration of users to a new platform either takes off and replaces the old social media giants or at least encourages them to reform.

Social media can be a valuable communication tool but it will only get worse until we find a way to wash out the anonymous users who are intent on ruining discourse.

Parler has made a great step. Click on the picture at the top of this post to join and follow me there. Lets make this thing work.

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