I am writing in response to the article "Facebook admits real name policy a drag for some" (SCMP, October 3). I wonder: why do people hide behind an assumed name? After reading this article, I think it's clear that many people like to use nicknames.
We don't know whether people are using their real names in online articles. So does that mean anonymity is a good thing? We know that making friends online can be dangerous, but anonymity gives cowards courage to express their often hateful opinions.
Some wrongly believe that they can say anything they like online and not take responsibility for it. This is wrong. The police should prosecute trolls by tracking down their IP addresses. People need to be held responsible for what they say on the internet. Freedom of speech, yes! Hate speech and threats, no! Words can be weapons.
Nicky Chu Ho-yin, Fanling Rhenish Church Secondary School
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Nicky. You make a good point about some people abusing anonymity to hurt others. This is not a new problem. People used to send anonymous hate mail through the post. We have to ask ourselves: how much of our freedom are we willing to exchange for the "safety" of others? We have free speech, but we are not free to lie about someone. We are not free to call them ugly names and use foul language when they are around. That is all part of what we call bullying today.
Yet, on the other hand, we also want people to be free enough to share ideas and feelings. If people are unable to speak freely, then our freedom of speech is harmed. When people are afraid of their government and are forced to expose their identities, they will not be able to share ideas and information freely.
Like everything else in life, this problem is not easily solved.