The Pros and Cons of Internet Anonymity

Google has recently received a small amount of press because of their restriction of users creating profiles under pseudonyms. Currently, Google doesn’t allow fake names, and this has some people upset. One of the appealing things about the Internet is that is seems to offer blanket anonymity. Anyone can be whomever they choose, but is that necessarily a good thing? To answer this question, we first have to take into account the pros and cons of being anonymous.

Pros

    There aren’t many sites that mandate you to use your real name, or even have any means of verifying that the name you provide is real or not. This allows you to assume numerous personalities, crafting a new version of yourself every time you log on. This can provide a layer of safety when providing your full identity can be dangerous. Consider users who have been the victims of abuse or stalking, the freedom to be anonymous on the Internet helps them to be less accessible and therefore less vulnerable. Anonymity comes with a certain level of freedom.

Cons

    Many problems caused on the Internet begin with a misuse of anonymity. Email scams, social media spam and profile hacks begin with the creation of a fake Internet identity. While tactics such as IP address tracing and validating the information given when setting up Internet profiles can provide the true identity of any Internet user, creating a fake profile is the easiest way to scam someone else. While being anonymous on the Internet is often a plus, it’s important to consider the negatives that complete anonymity can create.

    The moral value of total Internet anonymity is a matter of personal responsibility. It is only as good as the person who uses it. Anonymity being good or bad is not a matter of anonymity itself, but rather, a matter of the users of the Internet. When considering if you are for or against it, first reflect on how you use it.

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