23-year-old 4chan founder Christopher Poole (aka "moot") has fashioned himself as a sort of anti-Mark Zuckerberg, favoring anonymity and a certain messiness to Facebook's domain of spotless white walls and sterile profile pics. He's made a stir again by directly attacking Facebook's approach to identity.
At this week's Web 2.0 conference, Poole criticized Facebook's real name, one profile-per-person policies. Facebook (and Google+) are, he said, "consolidating identity and making people seem more simple than they really are… our options are being eroded." Twitter, which supports weird handles and multiple accounts, does it better.
True identity is "prismatic," according to Poole. You want to be able to present a different identity in different contexts, and be able to experiment without risking a permanent stain on your identity—something Facebook is making increasingly possible as it colonizes everything from games, to blog comments to your favorite music service.
We totally agree! It's too bad Poole's argument is pretty much undermined by the fact that his new start-up, an image-sharing board called Canv.as, requires a Facebook account to log in. Poole says this is simply to cut down on trolls and spammers, pointing out that Canv.as doesn't force you to identify yourself after sign-up.
But the idea that anonymity or multiple identities leads inexorably to a cesspool of abuse, cyberbullying, and spam is Facebook's strongest argument for a monolithic online identity—one they come back to again and again in defending their controversial real name policy.
By relying on Facebook insure all his users have one, single identity, before letting them play on Canv.as, Moot's bolstering Mark Zuckerberg's argument, even as he steals headlines with his own, anti-Zuckerbergian points.