David Maass writes:
… I spent the weekend brainstorming and jotting down all the kinds of people who would lose out if anonymity no longer existed in any form on the Internet.
Anonymity is important to:
- the people who run some of the funniest parody Twitter accounts, such as @FeministHulk (SMASH THE PATRIARCHY!) or @BPGlobalPr during the Deepwater Horizon aftermath. San Francisco would not be better off if we knew who was behind @KarltheFog, the most charming personification of a major city’s climate phenomenon.
- the young LGBTQ youth seeking advice online about coming out to their parents.
- the marijuana grower who needs to ask questions on an online message board about lamps and fertilizer or complying with state law, without publicly admitting to committing a federal offense.
- the medical patient seeking advice from other patients in coping with a chronic disease, whether it’s alopecia, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer or a sexually transmitted infection.
- the online dater, who wants to meet new people but only reveal her identities after she’s determined that potential dates are not creeps.
- the business that wants no-pulled-punches feedback from its customers.
- the World of Warcraft player, or any other MMOG gamer, who only wants to engage with other players in character.
- artists. Anonymity is integral to the work of The Yes Men, Banksy and Keizer.
- the low-income neighborhood resident who wants to comment on an article about gang violence in her community, without incurring retribution in the form of spray paint and broken windows.
- the boyfriend who doesn’t want his girlfriend to know he’s posing questions on a forum about how to pick out a wedding ring and propose. On the other end: Anonymity is important to anyone seeking advice about divorce attorneys online.
- the youth from an orthodox religion who secretly posts reviews on hip hop albums or R-rated movies.
- the young, pregnant woman who is seeking out advice on reproductive health services.
- the person seeking mental health support from an online community. There’s a reason that support groups so often end their names with “Anonymous.”
- the job seeker, in pursuit of cover letter and resume advice in a business blogger’s comments, who doesn’t want his current employer to know he is looking for work.
- many people’s sexual lives, whether they’re discussing online erotica or arranging kink meet-ups.
- Political Gabfest listeners. Each week, the hosts encourage listeners to post comments. Of the 262 largely positive customer reviews on iTunes, only a handful see value in using their real names.
Read more on EFF. There are probably many others you can think of to add to Dave’s list. In the meantime, I’ll continue to be pseudoanonymous online and allow commenters on my blogs to comment anonymously.