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Dick Durbin Asks Mark Zuckerberg to Create Facebook Anonymity Option

sen. richard durbinIllinois Democratic Senator Richard Durbin wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg last week, asking the Facebook CEO to offer stronger online protection to political dissidents who use the social network for organizing protests.

Citing the recent upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia, Durbin argued that Facebook should allow people to use fake names in order to avoid persecution from authoritarian regimes. He also called upon the company to join the Global Network Initiative -- a "voluntary code of conduct" for corporations, aimed at protecting human rights on the Web.

"I commend you for providing an important tool to democracy and human-rights activists," the Senator wrote. "However, as millions of people around the world use Facebook to exercise their freedom of expression, I am concerned that the company does not have adequate safeguards in place to protect human rights and avoid being exploited by repressive governments."

Though an anonymity option may go a long way toward encouraging more fluid online discourse, All Facebook points out an obvious flaw in Durbin's proposal: security. If the social network allowed its users to operate under online pseudonyms, it could make it easier for criminals or predators to target others on Facebook. Protesters and dissidents may need enhanced protection, but the safety of Facebook's larger community also hinges upon a fundamental level of transparency.

You can read Durbin's letter here.

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