When you have the advantage of the anonymity of the internet – you can be anyone you like. You could reinvent yourself to be someone totally different or perhaps bring out a particular facet of your personality.
Some would argue the anonymity of forums or discussion pages allows for UGC contributors to freely give their honest opinions without fear of being judged. But equally, without having to take personal responsibility for comments, perhaps people will think less before they type. Joseph Stashko asked if we are the same people online as offline and suggested that he is an idealised version of himself online, by leaving out the mundane/ unattractive details of his life offline and just promoting his best bits.
One of the possible problems of anonymous posts is the opportunity it leaves for online bullying. One site that has got a lot of attention for this is Little Gossip. The site allows users to log on to a page about their institution and post gossip about people without assigning their name to it. Many schools have criticised the site and Mumsnet have asked for it to be taken down.
In response to this criticism, the site said that it would not allow under 18s anymore. The homepage asks you if you are over 18, but that clearly isn’t enough to stop schoolchildren being involved and defying the ban, as reported in the Daily Mail. When you read the nasty comments on Little Gossip, it is easy to see why the site has attracted so much criticism. Whilst the premise of the internet is that it has total freedom, it is hard to argue what useful contribution this site was making, if at all.
So, it was no surprise that in the end Little Gossip closed the site down last week, with the following message….
Thank you to all those who did enter into the site and contributed positively to our community. We have not been forced, it is solely our decision to shut down.
Until next time,
contact (at) littlegossip.com