Anonymity describes situations where the acting person’s identity is unknown.
The important idea here is that a person be non-identifiable, unreachable, or untrackable . Anonymity is seen as a technique or a way of realizing certain values, such as privacy or liberty.
An important example of anonymity being protected and enforced by law is the ‘vote’ in free elections.
In many other situations – conversing with strangers, shopping etc. – anonymity is traditionally accepted as natural.
Acts of charity have been performed anonymously when benefactors do not wish to be acknowledged
A person who feels threatened might attempt to mitigate that threat through anonymity.
A witness to a crime might seek to avoid retribution, for example, by anonymously calling a crime tip line.
Sometimes, a person may desire a long-term relationship with another party without necessarily disclosing personally-identifying information to that party.
In that case, it may be helpful for the person to establish a unique identifier, called a pseudonym.
Examples of pseudonyms are –usernames, pen names, nicknames, credit card numbers, student numbers, bank account numbers, etc.
A pseudonym enables the other party to link different messages from the same person and, thereby, to establish a long-term relationship.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Anonymity
People often say that online behavior would improve if every comment system forced people to use their real names. It sounds like it should be true – surely nobody would say mean things if they faced consequences for their actions?
- Roughly half of US adult victims of online harassment already know who their attacker is.
- Conflict, harassment, and discrimination are social and cultural problems, not just online community problems.
- It’s not just for trolls: identity protections are often the first line of defense for people who face serious risks online.
- According to a nationally-representative US report by the Data & Society Institute, 43% of online harassment victims have changed their contact information and 26% disconnected from online networks or devices to protect themselves. When people do withdraw, they are often disconnected from the networks of support they need to survive harassment. Pseudonymity is a standard protective measure. One study on the Reddit platform found that women, who are more likely to receive harassment, also use multiple pseudonymous identities at greater rates than men.
- YikYak was a social media platform that allowed its users to post anonymously, i.e. without showing their name and allowing other users, within a 2.4 km radius, to read it.
Anonymity, which affects everything it touches, turned this social network into a catalog of cyberbullying and sexist, racist and hateful comments.
How Anonymity works at Relaxy
We understand that anonymity provides a lot of power, which can be used to do good things as well as bad things.
At Relaxy, we do provide you with the power, but we also want to make sure that you understand the responsibility that comes with it.
Relaxy’s Idea of Anonymity revolves around Confidentiality and Pseudonymity with the intent that you can express your feelings without being judged.
To help you make better sense of anonymous conversations, we created the following system. Anonymous posts have this profile picture 👀 to distinguish the thought author from those who are replying. Anonymous replies have randomly selected profile pictures for each thread. These icons will be different for each member in a thread so that you won’t get to know each others’ identity but will still be able to pinpoint who is who within a particular thread.
However, since we could foresee anonymity being used for hate speech, trolling, harassment, bullying, etc., we knew we had to tackle anonymity differently for our platform.
That means the only time your anonymous thought or comment needs to be identified is when it is found to be violating the community guidelines.
No Relaxy admin gets access to any thoughts or comments apart from the reported and/or removed content.
We care about your privacy, hence confidentiality.
We have built the platform so that no other user, team member, or even administrator will know who is behind any anonymous thought or comment.