A few days ago, +David Brin
shared a post about GamerGate, in which he opined that this is a problem which would be solved by greater transparency: "It is only anonymity that lets bastards like this operate," he says, "Accountability is the light that sears most kinds of badguys, whether they operate in criminality or in high places."
I disagree with his analysis, and this disagreement is rooted in part in my experience of information-revelation policies on social networks. (e.g., name requirements) While there was an expectation that people would behave better when their activity was tied to their own identity, as that identity is presumably a highly valuable and non-renewable resource to them, the evidence weighed against it: people seem quite willing to be jerks under their own identities.
In practice, the forced revelation of information makes individual privilege and power more important. When everyone has to play with their cards on the table, so to speak, then people who feel like they can be themselves without consequence do so freely -- these generally being people with support groups of like-minded people, and who are neither economically nor physically vulnerable. People who are more vulnerable to consequences use concealment as a method of protection: it makes it possible to speak freely about controversial subjects, or even about any subjects, without fear of harassment.
(A classic experiment which you can easily replicate is to change your profile photo to that of a young woman for a few weeks. Change nothing else, even your name, and see what happens to your interaction pattern. I've seen quite a few people run this test and the results are, shall we say, quite visible)
GamerGate is one example after another of why transparency has asymmetric effects. The worst-case consequence for members of the mobs is fairly minimal: they won't face social ostracism by their friends (who after all, support them), they are highly unlikely to be placed in any physical danger (the police will protect them), and their jobs are not likely to be affected either -- and if they are, they can find others. Conversely, the threats against women in the field were physical and real, and (as you'll see if you ever experience the real ability of local and federal law enforcement to deal with harassment and threat cases, for manifold reasons) there is reason to believe that they do not have access to adequate police protection.
Essentially, transparency of this sort removes a tool which is normally used to equalize power gradients within a society. So while the notion of "sousveillance" (at the heart of Brin's vision of a transparent society, where everyone has surveillance powers over everyone else) as applied to the powerful is important, I would always apply two strong qualifiers to it:
(1) Power is not a single real number; some people are powerful on some axes but very vulnerable along others. (cf the recent leak of nude photos of celebrities)
(2) Transparency directed at the powerless increases power gradients, whereas transparency directed at the powerful decreases it.
Which is to say, a misdirected transparency catalyzes further oppression, rather than relieves it. And I think that the example you give here falls precisely into that category: the perpetrators of GamerGate are relatively immune to consequences compared to its victims, and so transparency would heighten rather than relieve the problem.
(This post is adapted from a comment I made on that thread)