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Black Press to quash anonymous comments

In an effort to avoid "unpleasant and mean-spirited" postings, is moving away from anonymous posting on its websites.

The online home of Black Press newspapers is switching to the Facebook Comments plugin, software that enables users to leave comments via their Facebook accounts.

Starting Dec. 1, readers will only be able to comment using their Facebook accounts, which means names and profile pictures will be linked to posted statements.

Web editor Rob DeMone wrote in an editorial today that this is keeping in line with the Black Press brand. "Our community newspapers don't print anonymous letters, yet we've allowed our websites to become a place where people can hide their identity while occasionally taking shots at one another."

DeMone acknowledged that the new approach won't be perfect -- obviously, people without Facebook accounts won't be able to participate in online discussions.

"Still, we're enthused to be in the vanguard of this movement. . . " he writes. "It places us more deeply into the powerful world of social media: by using Facebook Comments, we're embracing a social medium with 800 million users worldwide."

He points out that other major media organizations, including the Los Angeles Times and Gannett have rolled out the Facebook commenting platform on their sites.

The L.A. Times' managing online editor Jimmy Orr told the Poynter Institute in August that the result was more traffic and a higher quality of discussion.

"Trolls don't like their friends to know that they're trolls," explained Orr.

The move drew dissenters, however, many concerned with privacy rights or simply uninterested in joining the social media site.

"You are not killing trolls, just alienating readers," wrote in one (identified) reader.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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