Consumer Pulse
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Anonymously
Puja Peyden Tshering, Bangalore

Anonymity as a context, revolves around being un-identifiable or inaccessible. The word is very often used to describe namelessness as well. However, in the digital world, the former descriptions are more pertinent.

In the 90s, chats/messengers popped up and were a craze – chat rooms, cool usernames and emoticons were the real deal. However, being anonymous enables one to detach oneself from accountability for one’s words and actions. This is part of what led to increase in hate speech, threats, misrepresentation and the like. Using a no-holds barred approach to running such sites lead to almost no regulatory actions being taken either.

Then in the 2000’s came Facebook, which openly booed the use of false identities and celebrated real ones. Facebook enforces strict community guidelines to help ensure to the maximum that the site is not taken advantage of.

However, in the bid to eradicate all the evil associated with anonymity, the need to express one’s thoughts most blatantly has been missed, increasingly so. Neither blogs, nor social networking sites seemed to completely and devotedly cater to the freedom of speech, owing to the battle anonymity wages with itself. On the other hand, social networking sites gave rise to vanity and even sharing of too much information.

Facebook saw an opportunity and developed an app called Rooms – where users can freely opine and debate anonymously, so long as one toes the line and does not indulge in what classifies as illegal behaviour online.

There is a moral policing feature available as well, wherein users or Facebook administrators can shut down users who take undue advantage of anonymity.

The move back to anonymity redefined seems to be on the rise with apps like Whisper, Ello, Yik Yak. Whisper, in particular, is referred to as the anti-Facebook by Forbes.

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