Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Anonymity on the net is a complicated question. Anonymous hate messages plague discussion boards and comment sections and an increasing number of news media are forcing all commentators to log in with a credible identity in an attempt to block the flood of hate, prejudice and offensive comments. Anonymity is blamed for the spread of net-hate and net-bullying and the reasoning goes that if people are forced to reveal their identity they will moderate their behaviour.
However, what about people who want to discuss matters where revealing identity would be dangerous, as in countries with censorship and political repression, or when you need to step away from your public web profile to discuss more freely than is possible on say Facebook? There's a lot of pressure on Facebook to present a positive, idealistic and highly flattering image of ourselves and it's not a good idea to reveal your weaknesses there. Sometimes we really need to discuss matters that simply don't fit into the tidy, happy and ever upbeat world of Facebook. Maybe you're depressed, worried about family matters, scared, insecure or just downright angry and you don't want your friends and family to see your deepest fears. Sometimes you need to be anonymous.
A new social network called Social number provides an anonymous alternative where you can discuss freely without revealing your identity. According to an article on CNN, The social network where no one knows your name, you are given a random number when you sign up and your identity cannot be traced. Then you can join any of the active discussion groups or start one of your own. It is a social network with all the usual features- minus the photo, profile and name. You have no idea who you're discussing with and so gender and nationality become irrelevant. The network is monitored both by organisers and by members and any offensive behaviour results in expulsion. According to the article and what I can see it manages to keep things relatively clean and even if you're free to rant and complain you can't cross the border into offensive behaviour. Maybe we all need an oasis of anonymity to escape from our digital identity for a while.