Online anonymity: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

An article came out today by J. Nathan Matias (find it here, it’s really interesting) calling for a re-examination of online anonymity, which for so long has been painted as a pantomime villain that automatically leads to abuse and problematic behaviour.

In the article J. Nathan Matias argues in essence for a reversal of the approach to anonymity and abuse, calling for a re-evaluation of online abuse that acknowledges the fact that it is and obviously is not solely an online phenomenon, but that it emerges from pre-existing social structures and resources. This is really interesting, especially in the wake of a re-emergence of anonymous platforms such as Yik Yak (before the update) and ask.fm.

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Facebook and the LGBTQ problem

The last week has seen some tremendous steps taken for the advancement of LGBTQ rights, a fact that was rightly celebrated by many. One of the main and most visible way people chose to celebrate was through a Facebook image filter, which overlaid your profile picture with a rainbow flag in support of LGBT rights. This was tremendously popular way of showing support for the LGBT community, as well as celebrating Pride week, and the Supreme Court decision.

Leaving aside the fact that Facebook are most likely recording your use of this feature, this case raises some issues with regards to Facebook’s general policies towards the LGBT community, and, importantly, highlights the importance of site design and modality upon how we perform identity, and how we act and interact. Continue reading