To address the needs of sites wanting weed out fake personas, users will have to be authenticated in new ways. Here, companies like Facebook, Google, and others are already in position to offer a solution for making sure people are who they say they are. Facebook Connect, Google Friend Connect, and Yahoo’s Open Strategy, have all been busy trying to grab land on the new frontier of identity management. All of them want to be your de facto online identity provider.
No matter who wins, though, it’s anonymity that loses. For the sites that move to these types of authentication methods, no longer will their users be able to create disposable usernames and passwords so they can troll around harassing others and leaving juvenile comments. Instead, all participants are themselves online – and subject to the same standards for behavior that you would expect to see if you encountered them in a real-life public situation.
True, these disparate federated identity do all link different account back to a central identity silo, but what is preventing the anonymity from originating there? In other words if I wanted to use Facebook Connect anonymously access a service, couldn’t I start with a fake Facebook account? Facebook doesn’t validate that I am who I say I am any more than any other site.
User will adapt quite well to the new paradigm. The rapscallions and mischief makers will create fake Facebook, Google, and Yahoo accounts (as they already do) and then go from there. To think the trouble makers won’t figure that out is naive.
And as far as the legality is concerned, this is moot point in reality. Law enforcement is simply not going troll the internet looking for fake accounts. You would only need to be concerned if you used a fake account for serious criminal activity.