Would you give up your anonymity to stop trolling? | The Tylt
Would you give up your anonymity to stop trolling?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that anonymity plays a major role in how the internet works and is incredibly important to many other groups beyond trolls. Here are just a few example of people benefiting from anonymity from the article.
the young LGBTQ youth seeking advice online about coming out to their parents.
the marijuana grower who needs to ask questions on an online message board about lamps and fertilizer or complying with state law, without publicly admitting to committing a federal offense.
the medical patient seeking advice from other patients in coping with a chronic disease, whether it's alopecia, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer or a sexually transmitted infection.
the online dater, who wants to meet new people but only reveal her identities after she's determined that potential dates are not creeps.
the business that wants no-pulled-punches feedback from its customers.
But anonymity is freeing. It lets people go online and read about fringe political viewpoints, look up words they are embarrassed not to know the meaning of, or search for a new job without being thought extremist, stupid or disloyal. In America some judges have recognised that browsing habits will change if people feel that they are being watched. In rejecting a government demand for book-purchase data from Amazon, an online retailer, a judge wrote that the release of the information would create a chilling effect that would “frost keyboards across America”. Librarians have long understood this, which is why they keep readers' files confidential. But many of the new custodians of people's reading records do not seem inclined to do the same.
Some people think that being anonymous is a form of free speech. People should be allowed to say what they want, no matter how horrible it is. Free speech protects all speech, not just the speech you like.
Critics argue that free speech and anonymity are two separate topics. They think a person has a right to say what they want, but they do not have a right to skirt the consequences for saying it.
But anonymity can also be incredibly toxic and sometimes deadly. People hide behind anonymity to distribute child pornography and stolen or private images. Anonymous actors encourage individuals to harm others or themselves, and can instill fear of being raped or killed. The Internet amplifies these effects—and it is becoming the new normal.
As far as I’m concerned, two things need to happen. We need to shut down online anonymity and stop confusing it with privacy. The answer to protecting yourself online is not to be someone else and please do not talk to me about online identity as if it’s some fluid thing to be protected. If you officially change your name, your address, your email, your phone number, please, by all means, change it online. “FunkyDawg” is not your identity. It’s a handle.