Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Aug. 28, 2013

Is Anonymity on the Internet a Good or a Bad Thing?

Policy and Research Officer, Childnet

A team of 15-17 year olds have put together a survey to answer some of their questions about anonymity on the Internet: 

  • How do people communicate anonymously online? 
  • Why might people want anonymity? 
  • What are the positive and negative uses of online anonymity? 
  • Are people nastier if they are anonymous on the Internet? 

They will be taking the findings of their survey to a UN conference about the Internet, where policymakers and companies will be discussing key policy issues and listening to the perspectives of young people. 

How can I take part? 

 Anyone aged 13 years or older – from anywhere in the world – is invited to fill in the survey and share what they think about online anonymity. Make sure you share the survey with your friends and family too! The survey will close on 30th September 2013, so don’t miss the deadline. 

Find out more and take the survey

What’s it all about? 

The group of young people are part of the Youth IGF Project, which was set up by Childnet to bring the voice of young people to the Internet Governance Forum – a UN conference about the future of the Internet. 

The youth team are chairing a workshop at the IGF about Online anonymity, freedom of expression & Internet governance, and they wanted to find out how young people and adults across the world feel about this issue. 

Why anonymity? 

Last year at the IGF, the youth team chaired a workshop on social media, young people and freedom of expression. The team had lots of discussions about the practical differences between offline and online communication, and they identified that the ability to be anonymous online was a key difference – and it was something the team wanted to explore further this year. 

Online anonymity has been in the news in the UK a lot over the last few weeks, after the anonymous Q&A site, Ask.fm, faced criticism when a teenager committed suicide amid allegations that she was being bullied on the site.

Twitter faced demands to improve its reporting mechanisms and protection of women, after key female campaigners, politicians and journalists were abused by anonymous users

The youth team felt that anonymous users can do negative things, but that there are also positive uses for anonymity online, and that it can allow people to express views that they may be too scared, embarrassed or shy to say. 

What do you think? Fill in the survey today!