Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Community News Network

October 25, 2013

Anonymity is fleeting when people are tweeting

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Did anonymity lend him mystique? "Oh, 100 percent," Sommer said. "People were thinking it was all these fancy media reporters. But those people don't have time for that! It's just this 23-year-old."

"Tweeting anonymously is great for people who either have an image to protect, or no image at all," said Jason Sattler, who puts himself in the latter category. A Michigan social media consultant, he launched @LOLGOP (160,000-plus followers) just for fun a few years ago; it led to a job with the left-leaning political site NationalMemo.com, where his new bosses decided he should come clean about his Twitter identity. "That made my reveal far less interesting," he said. "Personally, I was hoping I'd turn out to be Tagg Romney."

Abra Belke looped in her boss when, as a Capitol Hill staffer in 2008, she launched CapHillStyle, a blog and Twitter feed, "because I was tired of explaining to interns what they should be wearing to work." He was fine with it, she said — but lawyers for the House ethics committee fretted that lobbyists would try to woo her with gifts of shampoo or shoes.

Under the nom de plume of "Belle," she found anonymity hard to preserve: After she mocked the shiny green vest a congressman's son wore in his wedding photos, his aides tracked down her identity through her domain registration and called her chief of staff to complain. Now a lobbyist, she wonders what Joseph was thinking.

"Was he looking for people to retweet him and be microfamous? In the national security sector, you should know you're never truly anonymous. Somebody knows who you are!"

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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