I tried commenting on the Ottawa Sun's new website, where they use this assheaded "Disqus" platform that tries to be a hell of a lot more than it is.
After typing my comment, I clicked on the "post as" button. Up came a dialog asking me to sign in using my Facebook, Twitter, Google, OpenID, or other account. I tried to sign in with my RealGrouchy google account, and it asked me if I wanted to remember this authentication (i.e. Google account with Disqus) or just do it this one time. It displayed "[name] firstname.lastname@example.org" and I clicked "OK" expecting it to take me back to the comment form to customize how my name will appear and preview my comment.
Instead, it posted my real name, which was linked to http://profiles.google.com/realgrouchy. I do not associate my real name with RealGrouchy; it is an alias. I have plenty of other accounts to which I associate my real name, and if I wanted to use my real name I would have used one of them. The Ottawa Sun's "Sun and the City" blog (managed by Sue Sherring and Jon Willing) has posted comments before signed as RealGrouchy and linking to this blog, as has Citizen blogger David Reevely and even Ken Gray. This is because RealGrouchy has a reputation for making cogent (if sometimes aggressive) comments about relevant matters. I can be contacted to defend my comments, just as can those who sign with their real names. Sure it's an alias, but I could just as well have used an alias that looked like a real name and people would be none the wiser (actually, they'd be actively deceived).
Getting back to the Ottawa Sun/Disqus/Google website comments, I couldn't even access "http://profiles.google.com/realgrouchy" to change these settings because Google thinks my browser isn't new enough (it uses the same fucking engine as Firefox 4). When I am finally able to log in with Internet Explorer, if I change what name is associated with my account it doesn't change the previous comment. I can't customize any settings for my "google profile" account because it says I have to create a public profile to even access the settings, and I doubt it will help.
I've edited the comment, and sent a message to the Sun through their feedback form. That also doesn't appear to be working right, so I sent an e-mail to a couple people too explaining the situation and the nuances that should be investigated to improve the integrity of the system (I managed to temper it down to what I think was a rather polite message, from an angry "fuck you and your stupid comment system" type of thing, which wouldn't really help to encourage them to help me).
The Sun seems to be opening itself up to liability here, since it is allowing private contact information to be posted on their site without express authorization from the individual. That is in direct contravention to Canada's privacy legislation. Even if Disqus and Google aren't Canadian companies, it's still being published on the Sun's website.
The irony is that they instituted this comment thing to protect themselves from liability. Remember how Ken Gray always harps on about 'not being able to verify the identity of every commenter'? The Citizen also now requires you to log in to comment on their site, so I have ceased contributing to discussions on their site. Had they had a simple form that asked for name, required (but promised not to publish) an e-mail address, and offered the ability to add a URL, I could have commented and attributed my comment precisely as I wanted it to be published.
While I'll give the Sun the benefit of the doubt, since their new website is only a few days old and still in "beta", the way things are moving it seems that the mainstream, corporate media not only wants to store all sorts of information on your computer in the form of cookies (who knows how much information it tracks about you), but it also wants to take what information it does know about you from shared services and publish it against your will.
In essence, you must sell your soul and waive your right to privacy in order to participate in the information economy.
No wonder the comments sections on news sites are filled with posts by fucktards.