Fellmeth to Facebook Get Rid of Anonymous Messaging

University of San Diego Law Professor Robert Fellmeth has a message for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the board of directors of Facebook – get rid of anonymous messaging.

Professor Robert Fellmeth
University of San Diego School of Law

Last month, Fellmeth sent a letter to Zuckerberg and to each member of the board – Sheryl Sandberg, Peggy Alford, Marc L. Andreessen, Andrew W. Houston, Nancy Killefer, Robert M. Kimmitt, Peter A. Thiel and Tracey T. Travis. 

“The ability to make anonymous messaging threatens real free speech and also your legacy,” Fellmeth wrote. “We properly have the right to know who is originating, writing or posting a message –  whether it is gossip from an alleged fellow student, or a purported news story, or intended for political effect. We not only have the right to choose how we use our time, but also the right to judge the credibility of those we have so chosen to hear and see. Indeed, that information about the source underlies our ability to discern likely truth – a basic purpose behind our First Amendment.” 

“These are our eyes and ears, ours and those of our children,” Fellmeth wrote. “We need to know if that message popping up on a device 8 inches from our faces is from a Russian bot or the Koch Brothers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or our favorite pizza place. You can help to salvage an endangered First Amendment by a rule – anyone posting anything on Facebook must identify accurately who they are, and attest to that identification. If it’s a person, corporation or other entity, it must identify up front its legal, ascertainable name and its general location – including the city, state and nation. If a subscriber fails to do that, his or her (or its) message will not be transmitted. If such a transmitter is deceptive in that identification, the relevant subscription will be canceled. If it is repeated through subterfuge, its source will be categorically banned from Facebook.” 

“This is a reform you can lawfully impose. You are not the state. You have some ability to specify rules for those using your commercial services. This rule would not only be in the public interest, but it would set a precedent that others should properly emulate.”  

Fellmeth has yet to hear back from Zuckerberg or any member of the board. 

Facebook did not return a call seeking comment for this story.

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