My conclusions on the affects of Anonymity on the internet.
|Scooped by Joshua Swansey|
The Disinhibition effect, Shifting the human brain into aggressive.
What affects does anonymity have on a person? When their identity is masked behind a vale do they act differently? In my research I have found that people often dramatically change their behavior when they perceive that they are anonymous. The effects of anonymity on the internet are often discussed but what is the truth of it all.
The effect is call the disinhibition effect, the idea that when a person is anonymous they have a shift in their personality. This does not only apply to the internet though, people feel the same shift when they are on the phone or even behind the wheel of a car. Fits of rage while driving, over sharing online, and aggressive phone conversations are all way that people feel the disinhibition effect.
For some people being cloaked behind the internet become more open and friendly individuals. The perception on privacy and anonymity allows them to open up more about things that they would not usually share. A large movement in psychiatry right now is online counseling and support groups. People are able to reach more people that share their problems and the fact that they will more than likely never meet this person allows them to be more open. This new openness allows for deeper understanding and more help for those who need it. Some people even develop close in depth relationships without even knowing each other's names and only working through pseudonyms. The positive effects of online anonymity though are unfortunately outweighed by the negative side effects.
While some use this new found freedom for good others seize this new landscape to become cruel and almost inhumane people. The idea of internet trolls is wide spread and has become a large problem in the online community. Plato in "The Ring of Gyges" discusses how a man only acts according to morality when he has to face the consequences of his immoral actions. The idea that even the kindest and most moral of men would become a thief if he was invisible rings true on the internet. People often comment and say things on the internet that they would never say online. But this effect is not only limited to online activity. Behind the wheel of the car people often feel intense fits of rage that are completely uncharacteristic for them. While behind the screen of the computer people make cruel comments and often are just looking to get into a confrontation. The internet tough guy is a common theme online in message boards and forums throughout the world. But the community is reacting to this group of people and some steps are being taken to stop them.
While for the most part the internet allows people to make anonymous comments about almost anything, some actions are being taken to stop the trolls and internet tough guys. Gawker media is a popular internet news organization that run several sites including the technology site Gizmodo have been taking strong steps to eliminate these online predators. They no longer allow for people to comment anonymously on their site. A user account must be created and they must give a name and email address. Although it is easy enough to create a fake pseudonym for themselves and try to subvert this layer of protection the next step that Gawker is taking is ingenious. After an account is created the first few comments of the new users are reviewed by moderators before they make it into the public eye. This allows them to weed out people who are only making an account to be a troll or make negative comments. Only after your first comments are approved are you allowed to openly post. But that is not the last step of the new users evaluation. The other users then rate the comments of the user and eventually with good enough ratings you become a preferred user, preferred users activity is pushed to the top of the comments. This new filtration techniques makes sure that poor or unconstructive comments remain in the depths of the site while comments that contain a higher quality or unique perspective rise to the top. More sites need to take this more active method of moderation. With more moderation the community could flourish into a kinder and more constructive community.
Overall the internet is of course effected by anonymity but it is not the only medium that is. People associate negative behavior and anonymity on the internet but fail to see that it is only human nature to act more outrageously when no one can identify you. Plato's theories only prove that this is far from a new problem. Hopefully the community can band together and stop people from using the freedoms of the web for a negative purpose, while still maintaining the positive side of being anonymous on the web. With some work from content creators and users alike the internet could become a new heaven for people to speak freely and openly.