Internet Anonymity

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Jessica Cherkassky
FCWR 151 M01
Dr. J. Griffiths
Research Paper Final Draft
May 10, 2013
Internet Anonymity
Oscar Wilde once said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” Over the internet, many people gain more courage to say what’s truly on their minds because they feel protected behind a computer screen. They aren’t embarrassed or afraid to express their feelings because as long as their identity remains hidden nobody in real life will judge them about it in the future. The internet allows people to be whoever they want and say whatever they want without people actually knowing whether or not they are telling the truth. Everyone is considered equal, regardless of how they look, and is capable of being whoever they’d like. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of online anonymity and often use it in harmful ways such as bullying, trolling, and stalking. However, if one is wise about their behavior online, the pros of internet anonymity outweigh the cons.

When one goes online, they create a separate identity for themselves. “Now that everyone is able to entertain or publish online, the Internet persona is a fact of life for all of us, and it is a permanent, written record of our lives out there for all to see,” said Ted Claypoole, a lawyer who is also referred to as the Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Privacy and Data Security Subcommittee for the American Bar Association's Business Law Section (3). Sometimes it is an accurate depiction of who they really are and other times it’s who they are incapable of being in real life. “You’re a model? Cool! I’m a Chippendale’s dancer. I also race speed boats. What’s your sign?” said the man in the cartoon to the right.Figure 1- Honesty on the Internet Figure 1- Honesty on the Internet

Clearly, he is not a Chippendale’s dancer nor is she a model. It’s very possible though that they wish they were and the internet gives them the opportunity to do so. It’s important to remember that whether it’s an avatar in a videogame or a profile on a dating site, you never actually know whether all of the information one gives out online is accurate. Many people are so gullible that they believe everything that they read and are told over the internet. This often leads to them giving out personal information that cyber stalkers or people trying to steal their identities could use against them. People can also threaten and bully them and they will believe everything being said. Cyber bullies and stalkers often take advantage of the fake identities that they are able to create for themselves and use them to say/do things online without being held responsible for it. The National Crime Prevention Council defines cyber bullying as “using Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.” Cyber bullies believe that they could say anything to anyone and not be punished for it. Ted Claypoole writes that “Sometimes kids who are bullied at home themselves go online and feel that they have the power and cloak of anonymity to bully others to relieve their frustrations. Other times, kids just join in with other kids because of peer pressure” (160). During an interview, David Dashevsky, age 12, said, “A lot of people act all tough online because they think they won’t get in trouble.” People threaten, stalk, and harass others online, because they know they won’t have to face the consequences that they would if they said the same thing to someone in real life. Because it is so simple for users to hide behind a computer screen, many feel like they could make hateful/offensive remarks without being punished. In her article, Victoria Akinsowon, a journalist who writes for The Telegraph, discussed one specific example of comments online reaching an extreme. Before The Dark Knight Rises was released in theaters many fans were threatening anyone who dared say anything negative...
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