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Online anonymity
 

Online anonymity

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An invited talk on the value of anonymity online.

An invited talk on the value of anonymity online.

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Online anonymity Online anonymity Presentation Transcript

  • “Assessing the value ofanonymous communicationonline”Robert Bodle, PhD (USC)Associate Professor of Communication and NewMedia Studies, College of Mount St. Joseph
  • Anonymity as political freedom Khaled Mohamed Saeed (1982-2010)
  • Anonymity as political freedom Wael Ghonim
  • Tahrir Square 1/25/11
  • Insights-anonymity instrumental in organizing protest-human lives at risk-online anonymity more difficult to achieve due to a fixeduser identity ecosystem
  • Fixed user identity ecosystem Real Name Only Policy: “Impersonating anyone or anything is not permitted.”“Essentially, we are moving beyondthe point of no return” (Solis, 2010)
  • Defining anonymity onlineBasic conditions – 1) an anonymous action is not linkable to someone’s identity 2) two anonymous actions by the same person, are not linkable to each other (Clarke, Gauvin, Adams, 2009)Or, “nonidentifiability by virtue of noncoordinatability oftraits” (Wallace, 2008).
  • Facebook coordinates our traitsmashupswidgetssocial gamessocial plug-ins The “Like” button
  • A culture of sharing . . . Sharing ones social graph
  • One condition - ID is attached Why? Safety? Civility? Market incentive?“Essentially, we are moving beyondthe point of no return” (Solis, 2010)
  • Facebook claims real names =safety“When everyone uses their real first and lastnames, people can know who theyreconnecting with. This helps keep our communitysafe.”“We take the safety of our community veryseriously. Thats why we remove fake accountsfrom the site as we find them.” (Facebook HelpCenter)
  • the most vulnerable people are farLESS safe when identifiable -a dissident who fears imprisonment, torture, and death -a gay teen who wants to reach out online without fear of their family finding out -a whistleblower who fears retribution -a person of faith who could be subject to religious persecution -a battered wife seeking shelter -a parent who wants their child to navigate safely online
  • “The Civilizing Effect” of realnames “People behave a lot better when they have their real names down” - Randi Zuckerberg, Marketing Director of Facebook.
  • “The Civilizing Effect” of realnames The connection between civility and use of real names is refuted by recent studies on use of pseudonyms online (Boniel- Nissam & Barak, 2011; Cho, 2011; Disqus, 2012).
  • Double edged attributes ofanonymityThe same attributes that have antisocialoutcomes also have beneficial ones . . .•Minimizes accountability•Disinhibition•Deindividuation
  • Minimizes accountabilitytempts criminals to act w/impunityoffers safety from reprisalmasks failure/builds confidence
  • Disinhibitionstupid, abusive, vile, hateful, dishonest speechuninhibited public opinionexperimentationintimacyhonest self disclosuretherapeutic value “Anonymity is authenticity” (Poole aka “Moot” 2011)
  • Deindividuation Effects antinormative behavior group norms community ID high participationAnonymous Collective Action
  • Human rights dimensions ofanonymity Anonymity supports fundamental freedoms and rights online •Privacy •Right to assemble •Freedom of expression
  • Democratic Rights and FreedomsAnonymity enables politicalexpression that is “uninhibited,robust, and wide-open” (SupremeCourt Justice Brennan, NY Timesv. Sullivan, 1960)And . . .“Protection from the tyranny of themajority” (de Tocqueville 1835) The authors used the pseudonym "Publius"
  • Democratic Rights and FreedomsFirst Amendment protection ofanonymous communicationtolerates offensive speech toallow for robust political debate,including . . . “differences of opinion, scathingdissent, and the risk of disorder”(Bollinger, 2009).
  • Protect rights and freedoms onlineand offline Demand social media sites, services provide: -privacy -pseudonyms -anonymity -freedom from surveillance With global implications . . .
  • Thank you for your attention.robert_bodle@mail.msj.eduhttp://twitter.com/robertbodle
  • “Assessing the value ofanonymous communicationonline”Robert Bodle, PhD (USC)Associate Professor of Communication and NewMedia Studies, College of Mount St. Joseph