If you have been an early user of Google, then you must have noticed some issues in regards to the selection of pseudonyms. In the past, social media websites and forums had permitted users to create their accounts with false or artificial names. For over forty years, the internet had remained as an unrestricted place, where people could present themselves in whichever way they chose. This anonymity of the web had made it possible for people to speak out and communicate without worrying about the repercussions of their actions. Over time, the real-world identity of user had started merging with their digital identity leading to grave concerns.
Google has now decided to remove the element of anonymity from the internet. This has made quite a few users upset, as one of the greatest features of the web was its ability to allow people to surf and interact in an anonymous manner. With more and more social interactions taking place online, it is now important to consider the various pros and cons of anonymity on the web. Let’s take a look.
Pros of Online Anonymity
Free Speech: An anonymous user with a concealed identity has the power of free speech and can break through the barriers imposed by dictatorships and governments across the world. This has been recently evident in places like Egypt, Libya and Iran.
Discussion of Sensitive Subjects: Anonymity of the internet allows users to discuss sensitive subjects of the likes of physical abuse, medical conditions and sexual orientation, without worrying about how their actions can affect their day-to-day lives in a potentially harmful or negative way.
Ease of accessing Account based Websites: It’s true that most account based websites rarely invest in effective techniques of verifying the identity of their users. This practice makes it possible for people to assume many different personalities on the internet. An insight reveals that anonymity on such websites creates layer of security for users who may be endangered upon using their genuine or full identity on the net.
Lower Cyber Crime: Here we must think of those who have been cyber bullied or stalked or have been victims of spousal abuse. The possibility of being anonymous on the internet allows people to reduce their accessibility and reach. This in turn reduces their vulnerability and visibility towards cyber-crime.
Privacy Concerns: Being anonymous on social media websites and public forums allows certain privacy concerns to come into play. People are fond of sharing their details all the time –be it in the form of audio, video, graphics or textual information. If left unprotected, persona details regarding phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, places of work and so forth can lead to grave problems.
Image Creation: People who live a clean life, both offline and online, need not worry about the results of revealing their identity on the web. However, those with a criminal conviction or confidential history have to bother about how the digital world never forgets anything and keeps following them throughout their lives. The web indexes and archives allow public viewing of all personal details and life events posted thereon. Under the circumstances, a small mistake conducted at any stage of life can tarnish a person’s online record forever. This can lead to misled judgments in one’s relationships, career and other facets of life. Being anonymous protects users from these concerns.
Cons of Anonymity of the Internet
Well, there are plenty of positive ways of using anonymity on the web but there is a flip side too. Its various negative side effects include racism, accountability, bullying, impersonation, stock market manipulation and more. Social media spam, profile hacks and other online frauds are actually the result of fake Internet identity creation. Stalking, internet bullying and thievery are other issues connected with cost-free anonymity. It is important to understand that these are all concerning by-products of a digital world habited by anonymous users, who believe that they cannot be identified.
In most cases anonymous offenders cannot be tracked and get a safe getaway for their crimes. Hiding behind pseudonyms and masking their real identity from world, they can protect themselves from the negative consequences of their actions and continue carrying out malicious acts from nondescript and random locations.
Popular social media websites such as Twitter still allows its users to juggle with multiple accounts. This has led to an increase in spam, false identities and other irrelevant content that no longer serves the purpose for which they had been created. This can soon prove to be the nail in the coffin for sites like Twitter and its other contemporaries. Identity-centric social networks such as Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn have already made anonymous life difficult on the web leading to the creation of reliable social platforms to consolidate a genuine network of acquaintances and friends.
Websites devoid of sign-on plug-ins and applications for encouraging real world identities are making their users memorize dozens of passwords and user names and do not allow them the convenience of registration and auto-fill profiles on third-party web sites. These sites are not as secure as their counterparts that require complete profile information. They also lack transparency.
It has now become important to address the issues connected with web anonymity. Is Google correct in disallowing anonymity on the internet? The fact is that the ethics and moral values behind the use of pseudonyms are based on one’s personal responsibility. The gradual but steady merging of our online as well as offline identities is leading to various problems that require external intervention.
The good news is that some VPN service providers have started taking the concerns of privacy very seriously and provide the best proxy server and VPN service to maintain secure anonymity and hassle free file sharing. They offer the advantages of local area networking scalability, greater cost savings and stronger protection, without having any adverse effects on performance.
The issues connected with the pros and cons of being anonymous online are expected to continue for quite some time. The need of the hour is to understand how new technologies and regulations can help users use the powers of the internet in a secure, ethical and cost-effective manner.