Expert GD Moderators Group Discussion

Anonymity on the internet

Anonymity is simply described as a state of existence where the acting person's identity is unknown. The important idea here is that the person who is anonymous is someone who is unreachable, untrackable, and unidentifiable. When it comes to the internet, most commentary is done anonymously but a study conducted by the University of Birmingham states that the number of people who use the internet anonymously is the same as the number of people who use it openly to contact their friends and acquaintances. But the internet was never designed for anonymity, every person who uses it can be traced back to a certain extent using their IP address. So the question here is, is the internet is a safe place to be anonymous? Is anonymity okay? Are we digging our own graves by not reporting these incidents and not taking them seriously enough?

"One of the biggest challenges will be finding an appropriate balance between protecting anonymity and enforcing consequences for the abusive behavior that has been allowed to characterize online discussions for too long". Experiments in this field state that 42% of respondents indicated that they expect "no major change" in online social media climate and that it will be more shaped by negative activities. When you walk into a roomful of strangers and notice how that strangely makes you feel comfortable and safe, it is not a characteristic of the environment but this same trait called anonymity works here. No one knows you so less are the chances of you being exposed in any manner and this is also the logic behind people wanting to be anonymous on the internet.

“We need a public self to navigate the social world of family, friends, peers, and co-workers,” says John Suler, professor of psychology at Rider University in New Jersey, and author of The Psychology of Cyberspace.

“But we also need a private self – an internal space where we can reflect on our own thoughts and feelings apart from outside influence, where we can just be with our own psyche. Our identity is formed by both. Without one or the other, our wellbeing can easily become disrupted.” 

Humans are obsessed with the idea of being anonymous because they believe that it lets them express ideas without being judged or talked about. It helps them feel that they can safeguard their personal lives and not fall into the black hole of being someone who is judged and known by everybody. 
The four major key factors here when it comes to anonymity on the internet in the future is that ( a ) thing will stay bad because to troll is something that is human (b) things will stay bad because tangible and intangible economic and political incentives support trolling. (c) things will get better because technical and human solutions will also arise as the world moves forward. (d) overnight and community moderation always come with a cost. to put it in simpler words, some changes will keep on occurring all the time, but the design of the internet will further restrict us from things because of the bad sides in mind as time goes. 

Anonymity is a characteristic of human nature, and can never be removed completely. Both the sides must be protected, i.e the anonymous and the exposed. we will see the rise of social robots, technological tools that can help us act as polite, decent social beings. But more than that we need to go back to teaching and experiencing morals in business and education: back to behaving socially. 

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