A couple of months ago, Facebook’s marketing director, Randi Zuckerberg, expressed her view in a Marie Claire roundtable discussion that there should be an end to internet anonymity. This sparked off some debate on this issue.The nature of the internet allows one to hide behind the cloak of anonymity fairly easy, thus seeming to facilitate more honest discussions and encourage one to express true opinions behind an avatar or username.
However, I believe there is a need for true authenticity on the internet, in order for one’s opinions and views to be trusted or respected. If one does not dare back up one’s statements by revealing one’s identity online, it would be hard to establish a relationship of trust with readers. An anonymous person can say anything, but not have to deal with the fall out if that statement is bad advice or an insult. Allowing readers to trace information you put out back to you, makes you ultimately responsible and accountable for the things that you say online.While this may sound scary, it also adds credibility to your profile.
Readers know that you are putting your reputation on the line with the things you say, and hence you would be more believable to them. Also, revealing one’s identity automatically induces a person to make statements more responsibly, and serves as a form of preventing irresponsible comments online that could cause harm to another in some form.
As with all things in life however, there are some extenuating circumstances where I believe it is fine to hide a person’s identity, for instance, if that person’s life would be in danger if they openly declared who they were due to political and other reasons. In general though, I do tend to agree that there should be an end to anonymity on the internet. Besides, it would be a great way to build one’s personal brand!
This post was first published in Incite People’s HR blog.