V: Anonymity

As people have become more aware of the potential for their online activities to be used in ways they hadn’t necessarily intended, usage of encrypted browsers, ad-blockers and other anonymising devices has soared.


Historically, web giants have managed to convince consumers into giving up their privacy — the fact that every Google search is logged and recorded, for example, is now seen as par for the course. The fact that consumers willingly or unwilling give up vast amounts of private data and then this data is used in a whole spectrum of ways that the user is unaware of, feels like a pretty poor model


We are aware that we are tracked. Yet, we don’t do anything to change that, because we have grown accustomed to the tracking so much so, that it is now a part of our everyday lives. We check in here and there with caution sometimes, but other times we feed into our inner curiosity that overtakes us.


On tumblr, many of us have an invisible tracker. It track those who visit our blogs, giving us a grand amount of information on a stranger. IP address, country, internet server, time, length of stay––they are not anonymous anymore. We may not know who these strangers are personality-wise, but they have revealed bits and pieces of themselves by leaving breadcrumbs.


Anonymity can help feed creativity to those who cannot express themselves with a known-identity. However, anonymity can make room for cyber-bullying, a rising trend on the internet. Targeted victims have no idea who is on the otherside of the screen, making them feel entirely vulnerable. Those who are part of the LGBTQ communities are the most attacked, especially when it comes down to sites like tumblr that enables members to express and explore their identities.


Proponents of anonymous communications on the Internet thus open the door to many forms of criminal and anti- social behavior, while leaving victims and society helpless. Internet-based crimes, such as hacking, virus writing, denial-of-service attacks, credit card fraud, harassment, and identity theft are increasing. Already, damage estimates are measured in billions of dollars per year, but the human cost, in terms of ruined reputations, loss of trust, and a general dete- rioration in morals, is immeasurable.


One might ask, is anonymous speech effective? Is it effective when it comes down to advocating for social change? According to an article, “history is made by those brave enough to speak out, despite the serious personal risks involved.” However, I believe that anonymity can create social change, if used correctly. Anonymous hackers may bring light to situations that were hidden from the public eye, as a way to show that they are not afraid to take action. Anonymity is not always an outlet for those who cannot bring forth themselves, rather it can be an outlet for those who have courage to shed light on social-injustices that may’ve happened behind the public eye.


Everything said through an anonymous button will still exist on the internet, but the person on the other end will never know who it came from. Creepy much?