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Anonymity makes social media platforms open to abuse

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anonymous, virat kohli, anonymity, internet, social media, abusing on social media, misuse of social mediaOne fake profile that sent threats to Virat Kohli’s daughter got caught by Mumbai police. But this is not the first incident where anonymous profiles threaten someone. A female journalist asked males that were making malicious and misogynistic sexual comments on her feeds why they felt the need to. While anonymity may allow people to express themselves without consequences, it also creates a false sense of security.

Anonymity allows people to express themselves without admonishment. Different social media tools take different stances on the importance of anonymity. Facebook requires users to use their real name (although they don’t have a great way of monitoring this), whereas Tumblr allows its users to be as anonymous or as transparent as they want.

Anonymity might have various explanations; many people believe that it enables people to freely speak their minds without fear of repercussion; others use it as a platform for libel and hate speech and those opinions clash. Anything less than a name you regularly use (“real” in the sense that this is the name you go by. Not always a legal name, but the name you’re known by,) is an instant sign of cowardice and/or immaturity. Anonymity is a term that gets thrown around quite often in the microblogging world and has many legitimate perspectives.

There are lots of ways to remove anonymity and find out who someone is. But one thing is certain that anonymity breeds freedom. It’s like freedom of speech: you can say what you want openly without fear of consequence, which leads to more freedom for individuals who share your outlooks on anonymity worldwide. Abuse is everywhere, but this isn’t about abuse. This is about user rights. Anonymity allows for people to be more open with their opinions – both positive and negative – without fear of repercussion, which can allow for massive change in a short period of time.

For example, the anonymity on the Internet has allowed people to express themselves in a way that was never possible before due to fear of repercussions from governments and corporations alike. The Internet has allowed the people to become their own government – they’re their own government now. Teachers are liberated from the oppression of students who wish to bully them.

All of these things, and more, have been made possible by anonymity – through Internet forums, chatrooms, Facebook pages, etc. It’s an amazing tool that has allowed many parts of the world to take a deep breath for the first time ever. It truly inspired me to want to not just erase anonymity on the Internet for one set of people but everybody – even those people who have used it for less than noble purposes.

At the same time, there are some perverts, sadists and extremely cruel people with destructive mindsets on social media, they find someone or the other to take out their anger and nastiness, their frustration speaks for themselves. In all cases, the abuse gets more intense resorting to the threats of murder or rape. By using threatening or abusive language the intent was to shock women away from their perceived territory.

We all have personas, to one extent or another. These are the various caricatures we use in various situations: the persona you use with immediate family, the persona you use at work, the persona you use when dealing with vendors, the persona you use when in a particular social media forum. Some people even have different personas for different topics on social media!

The only pro to being anonymous is that people will not know your identity. It is good that nobody should be forced to prove who they are online, just to say something. In some cases, that could be dangerous, even fatal, and in many more just embarrassing. It’s a sliding scale – there is a long history of whistle-blowers suffering retribution, or outspoken members of communities suffering shunning for breaking ranks, even when doing the right thing. However, some are emboldened by anonymity to become abusive because they know there will be no retribution, and of course, criminals would much rather you didn’t know who they are.

One should know that there is a thin line between privacy and anonymity. But both can be of use at some point, anonymity can be important mostly to express opinions or thoughts that can put your life at risk, this is like reporting to police about a crime to be investigated without revealing who said it to protect you. Online Anonymity ends as soon as you share something related or linked to you. Privacy is more like everyone knows what house you live In but they don’t know what you have in it because inside is private property and only you can share that with the people you want except the internet is only data. Many anonymous questions are quite ironic. It also allows troublemakers to have fun without too many repercussions. Gone are the days, where you can really remain anonymous on social media. Cyber security is taken on priority by Indian authorities, one wrong statement or one treat the anonymous can be traced and punished just like a 23-year-old engineer Ramnagesh Srinivas who has been arrested over online rape threats directed at India cricket team captain Virat Kohli’s nine-month-old daughter after the country lost back-to-back matches in the ongoing T20 World Cup in the UAE.


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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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