Anyone can target other people anonymously and spread lies about them online – but as the law stands, very little can be done about it. Rampant hate speech and fake news allow conspiracy theories to flourish and online spaces become sowed with divisiveness.
Absolute anonymity online is a key enabler: giving online users the ability to conceal themselves emboldens them to post whatever they want. Pseudonyms play a vital role in advancing freedom of expression online – but we can protect this while having access to user’s true identities by eliminating absolute anonymity; not instituting real name policies.
If social media companies required users to provide verifiable ID, there could be accountability for malign actors. This does not mean preventing people from using pseudonyms – a key protection for many minorities. But it would enable an extra layer of protection.