On the internet, how do you know whether someone really is who they say they are? When should we insist on use of real names (whatever that means!) and under what circumstances do we allow pseudonyms or anonymity? Perhaps more importantly, how do you know whether a given article or video or blog post, presented as fact, is to be believed?
A group calling itself Hypothes.is wrestling with these very complicated issues. I’m familiar with the issues, having dealt with them first on PLATO and in subsequent years on a variety of online communities and social sites. While individual sites have implemented policies and technical solutions that work well enough for their particular purposes, solving the identity and reputation issue on a global scale remains very difficult.
The Hypothes.is folks are attempting to tackle the job. They aim to build a peer review system for the entire internet. This project is just barely getting off the ground, but I wish them luck. It’ll be worth watching as it picks up steam.