What Happened to Anonymity Online?

By | June 5, 2013

What exactly did happen to anonymity online? And do we really need it?

I think that people were generally more likely to use pseudonyms or post anonymously back in the 1990’s; yet nowadays it seems everyone’s almost too open about themselves.

Just look at older interactive site or forum, and about 90% of them are run by staff going under usernames related to the topic in a generally anonymous way. And many of the members are a bit more secretive than people online now.

But then when you look on any more ‘modern’ website, it seems like hardly anyone is writing things pseudonymously (is that a word?) any more. Everyone gives their real name and photo, half the people there basically just use their Facebook or Twitter profiles rather than an actual forum profile, why?

When did anonymity become seen as a bad thing? Web 2.0 time? And why is this? Did the audience online change significantly enough that it attracted the types of people who wanted the internet to perfectly mirror the real world?

Some say “Blame reality TV shows………”

Maybe it is our expectation that everything on the internet should be free?

When you don’t pay for a service, you’re the merchandise being sold to the highest bidders, and that doesn’t work too well unless service providers pry away as much data they can from you.

We can also lay the blame at the door of Facebook, Twitter, Connect then Google+ (its easier to push people and sites to use its login system than it is to independently require their real names every time).

Some suggest that you’re perfectly anonymous all the time except when you explicitly decide to disclose your identity to select people every single time, or you know the people you address.

internet anonymity

It still makes me wonder why people don’t just use fake names or whatever. It’s not exactly easy to verify for a free service like Facebook is it?

I guess login systems make it easier to have people use their real names, but why does it seem more authors and writers online in general seem to have dropped the anonymity and/or pseudonymity too?

When did just about every site become a blog?

Nobody after credibility will deny themselves the gains of getting their commentary validated and cited; especially in the mainstream press.

Building a reputation as a credible author is difficult behind anonymity, as its mostly used as a disposable/ephemeral persona meant to favour free expression safe from retaliation or persecution. This is not a concern for regular authors, who may still use pseudonyms either for privacy or due to pre-established fame.

Big data is now big business. They (Facebook, Google+ etc.) are doing everything they can to get you to disclose as much as they can about you.

Not only is the data on your very valuable but also the ability to track you, your lifestyle, and your commercial interests across the web and target ads at you.

Why does it seem like anonymity is going away? Because there is a billion dollar industry out there being born and people are working to make it seem that way so you’ll be more inclined to willingly give up your personal data to every site you encounter.

What are your thoughts about anonymity online, the information big sites demand of you and personal data protection? Tell us using the comment box below.


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