You Have No Right To Anonymous Free Speech

Everyone has the right to know who’s publishing hate and lies about them

David Grace
6 min readDec 29, 2022


From Dall-e

By David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

Having A Right Without A Corresponding Responsibility Is A Myth

For every right — speech, press, religion — you have an equal measure of responsibility.

The notion that you can have rights without being subject to a corresponding, equal measure of responsibility, is a just plain, flat-out lie.

Some Examples Of The Responsibilities That Go With Rights

Freedom Of Religion

You have a right to freedom of religion, but that right is coupled with a responsibility not to use that freedom of religion as a vehicle to harm others.

Men can’t claim that they have a freedom-of-religion right to rape little children or beat their wives with the argument that’s what their religion says that’s what God wants them to do.

The Right To Bear Arms

You have a right to have a gun, but that right is coupled with a responsibility not to use that right to bear arms to harm others.

You can’t wave your gun around in a crowd or point it at people, “just for fun” or be a felon in possession of a firearm with the argument that such conduct is protected by your right to bear arms.

Freedom Of Speech And Of The Press

You have a right to freedom of speech and of the press, but those rights are coupled with a responsibility not to use that freedom of speech and press as a vehicle to harm others.

You can’t scream into a bullhorn at one in the morning or publish lies about people or print child porn under the claim that such conduct is protected by your right of freedom of speech or of the press.

Every speaker and every publisher has a right both to speak and publish but they also have a corresponding legal responsibility for any defamatory lies that they say or print.

If you publish lies, private information, material owned by others, threats, invitations to commit crimes, child porn, etc. you are legally responsible for the damage caused by that exercise of your freedom of the press.

Everyone Has The Right To Know Who’s Publishing Lies About Them

Because everyone is legally responsible for what they say and publish, no one has a right to anonymous free speech. People who are damaged by your speech always have the right to know who to sue.

Every publisher — every newspaper, every magazine, and every TV network — has always been legally and financially responsible for what was said or printed on their platform.

Until the Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 Broke The Connection Between Freedom & Responsibility

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act absolved internet publishers of the responsibility that all other publishers have always had for what was said or published on their platform.

Under Section 230, Facebook, Twitter, etc. were exempted from legal responsibility for the content they hosted, published, and promoted even though their entire business model was based on making money by duplicating, promoting and distributing that content to as many people as possible.

The Argument For For-Profit Publishing Without Legal Responsibility

The tortured logic behind this Section 230 exemption was

  • (1) Facebook et. al. were not actually publishers, but rather were merely forums for publications made by others, and that therefore the responsibility for those posts should, instead, rest with the persons making them and
  • (2) that Facebook et. al. didn’t have the time and resources to vet every post before it was released to the public.

“We didn’t publish those defamatory lies about you,” Facebook would claim. “It was HarleyBeth319. S/he is the one responsible. You have to sue him/her.”

But, of course, you can’t because

  • 1) You don’t know who they are
  • 2) Facebook won’t tell you who they are
  • 3) They’re possibly not real at all. They may just be part of some bot network based in Belarus.

What crap!

If you’re interested in a detailed explanation of why Facebook’s argument that it’s not a publisher is total, 100% crap, check out my column below:

Reconnecting The Right To Publish With The Responsibility For What You Said

So, here’s my plan for again connecting

  • (1) the right to speak with
  • (2) the legal responsibility for what you say:

Modify Section 230 To Require Verifying The Identity Of The Speaker

Amend Section 230 to absolve internet platforms of responsibility for defamation, lies, invasions of privacy, copyright infringement etc. committed by

  • Any user of their platform whose identity and U.S. address they have responsibly confirmed to be valid, but
  • Make them legally liable for defamation, lies, invasions of privacy, copyright infringement etc. posted on their platform by anyone whose identity and U.S. address they have NOT responsibly confirmed to be valid, and
  • Make them legally liable for any posting that they don’t remove within 24 hours of a demand based on a violation of certain categories of content — defamatory, hate speech, lies, solicitation of a crime, etc.

For Facebook to be exempt from liability for what someone posts,

  • The user will have to submit to Facebook reliable proof of their true name, U.S. address, email, and phone number or post a corporate surety bond from a licensed insurance company to pay any damages arising from their posts.
  • Every artificial entity will need to designate a human being living in the United States who will be financially responsible for what is posted on that account or it will have to post a surety bond.
  • Upon being served with a subpoena, Facebook will have to divulge that person’s identity and contact information so that a court can hold that person legally responsible for any lies and defamatory material that they post on Facebook.

If Facebook does that then it’s off the hook and the responsibility for that speech will rest solely with the speaker. If not, then Facebook will be liable for all damages caused by that post.

The Publisher Needs To Be Held Liable For The Content Of Anonymous Speech

If someone in Belarus or Iraq or China publishes lies on Facebook about U.S. resident and there is no bond posted then Facebook will be obligated to pay that bill.

In this way Facebook, Twitter, etc. will no longer be able to play the “heads I win, tails you lose” game.

They will either vet their users and let those identified as real, U.S.-based humans bear the responsibility for what they publish, or they won’t vet their users and Facebook will bear the responsibility for what those anonymous people, or people based outside the U.S., publish.

The days of Facebook and other internet platforms distributing lies and hate from anonymous nut jobs and character assassins to tens of millions of Americans for profit with no corresponding responsibility for the damage inflicted by those lies and hate has to end.

Tell Me Who’s Publishing Lies About Me Or Pay The Price Yourself

If Facebook, Twitter, etc. want to make money from hosting false, fake and defamatory posts then they have to either make sure that the people who are harmed by those posts have access to a real U.S. person or corporate surety who will pay the bill or they will have to bear the financial responsibility for the abuses of free speech that they facilitate, publish, host and distribute.

They can’t continue to have it both ways — making billions from publishing the lies of anonymous, fictitious trolls, nut jobs and character assassins while having no financial responsibility for the damage those toxic posts cause.

We ALL have the RIGHT to know who’s telling lies about us.

— David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

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David Grace

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 16 novels and over 400 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.