Tagged: anonymity

I Realize This is Late

Austin, Henry. “Virtual girl dubbed ‘Sweetie’ snares thousands of would-be sex predators.” NBC News. 5 Nov. 2013. Online. 26 Nov 2013. <http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/11/05/21316335-virtual-girl-dubbed-sweetie-snares-thousands-of-would-be-sex-predators>.

I didn’t realize I was short one annotated bib until I actually counted again (I suck with numbers). Anyways, I saw this video on Facebook a couple weeks ago and thought to myself, “This would be a really strong case against anonymity.” The reason I say this is because all of the pedophiles mentioned in the video/article were able to “virtually” molest children from third world countries without ever being caught for YEARS. Dealing with anonymity is such a huge issue that the only way they could deal with the problem of online pedophiles was with a 3D model of a little girl. It’s an innovative way to handle the problem, but the fact that it was even necessary to deal with anonymous threats goes to show how much power is given to anonymous users on the internet. I honestly believe that something has to be done about it. The problem in the video deals solely with pedophiles, however there are so many other problems that anonymity creates that it is hard to justify keeping it in the first place. Some privacy should be allowed, however the amount currently given to internet users is far too great. I mean come on…a little girl named Sweetie caught more pedophiles than any of the government services. If anonymity is that hard to deal with, then more attention should be put on the subject.

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The Online Disinhibition Effect(There is such a thing)

Suler, John. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Vol 7, Issue 3. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. June 2004. Online. 25 Oct 2013. <http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/1094931041291295>

This is the first psychology research paper/article that I’ve read on the subject of anonymity, and it’s chock full of goodies. There is actually a term that describes what my entire argument is about. They call it the Online Disinhibition Effect, and it essentially states that people become this way due to a variety of reasons that all act upon one another to create a synergistic effect. It is caused by “dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solupsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority.” I think the biggest part that could help my thesis would be the absence of authority. Suler states that without an authoritative figure that would normal express their power through clothing, body language, etc, people don’t feel the normal pressure of say the police looking over their every action. Cyberspace gives everyone an equal voice, and people don’t have to worry about getting disapproval or punishment from a higher power. I could go on and on about why this paper is great, but everything is already pretty much summed up nicely. The one thing I should note is that Suler also talked about benign disinhibition, where the user actually opens up more than in real life. I think this could provide a good counter argument to my psychological standpoint, where I think anonymity just causes people to act more aggressively and spitefully. This is not always the case, and Suler even says that the effect goes both ways in extremity. The other parts of the definition are also really important, and I will probably base the rest of my research on defining these characteristics more.

The Hobbit, Road Rage, and Anonymity

Zhuo, Julie. “Where Anonymity Breeds Contempt.” The New York Times. 29 Nov. 2010. Online. 10 Oct. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/opinion/30zhuo.html>

I never really thought about The Hobbit as an example for my thesis, but it could actually work. Zhuo brings up a good point in that when people are anonymous, they are much more likely to do things they wouldn’t normally do. In the case of Bilbo Baggins, he finds a magic ring that turns him invisible and ends up turning into a full-blown thief because of it. Road rage is also a great example of how anonymity can totally change a person. When you are behind the wheel, other people don’t know who you are. You can yell, scream, insult, and maybe even attack other drivers at will. The best part is that you will never see that person, so why worry about what they think of you? The same can be said about trolls on the internet. They don’t care about who they insult because they know they will never have to face that person in real life. One horrible case of this had to do with the death of 18 year old Nikki Catsouras. Pictures of her dead, mutilated body were posted all over the internet as a joke. The really horrible part is that people left anonymous comments, making fun of her. I even looked up the pictures myself to see what the fuss was about and almost threw up in disgust at what I found (do not look up those photos). Zhuo left some great research quotes behind that I am definitely going to look up in the future as reference for my paper.

Virtual Anonymity

Singer, Jane B. “Virtual Anonymity: Online Accountability and the Virtuous Virtual Journalist.” Journal of Mass Media Ethics 11.2 (1996): 95. Print.

This article includes data (though not nearly as recent as I would like- 1994) of a breakdown of how anonymous messages are used online in a political debate. About half of the posts assert an opinion, with the close second being vicious attacks, followed by much smaller percents used for information, questions, defense to the attacks, and persuasion. Understanding how people use their accounts in an anonymous way can definitely help my paper, as I am still forming an opinion based on my research of whether or not it is useful. In this case, more people are probably likely to assert their opinion especially in a political debate considering  it is law to have the right to a private vote. The anonymity factor probably brought more opinions to the table than having your full name printed would.  However, the large percentage of attacks are also something to consider when thinking of the ethical effects of anonymity.