Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen told Yle on Thursday that he wants to start a conversation both in Finland and at the EU level about ways to curtail anonymous online bullying among youth. He said he also wants to reduce conflict among different ethnic groups that take place via anonymous Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Mykkänen emphasised that the suggestion is not his idea alone, and that there will be future ministerial meetings at the EU level to address the issue.
He stressed that he’s not aiming to ban all anonymous online conversation. Rather, he said he wants to investigate the possibilities for requiring users to identify themselves by name on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Though there is currently no directive in the works at the EU level, Mykkänen said he wants to get the process of examining the matter started.
Tens of thousands suffer
According to the minister, restricting anonymous profiles would benefit thousands of school kids, who are subjected to bullying by anonymous threats and messages.
”This is a cultural change," Mykkänen said. "Of course we shouldn’t prevent the culture of online conversation. But we do need to examine whether there are ways that we can direct our online conversation culture in a more civil direction,” he said.
The minister went onto say that it’s important to operate on a EU level, because Finland alone is too small to determine standards for social media usage.
”I don’t want in any way to curtail freedom of speech, but it’s a very important balancing act. You need to bring your face [and name] forward when you participate in a conservation,” he said. ”It brings the bad sides out in people when they are able to express their anger anonymously,” Mykkänen added.