And that supposed anonymity emboldens them to do and say things that they would never express in polite company, to harass others and promote content of a violent or horrific nature.
It isn’t that every pseudonym on the internet is harboring a troll, but it is the perfect place for a troll to hide.
While we were assured by our moderators that there was never any pressure to share more information about ourselves than made us comfortable, it wasn’t long before we all knew each others’ names, where we were writing from, and what we did on a day to day basis. It’s pretty easy to spot crazy most places on the internet.” This is not a sad story where I end up stalked and have to change my name and move to another state, bemoaning my lack of foresight. They are real, wonderful people who I am very lucky to know. I was warned to take caution when I graduated from college; if there were any pictures of me on Facebook sporting a suspicious red plastic cup, I should remove them immediately.
In fact, I should remove any pictures that made me look weird at all. Anyone can screen capture your tweets, even if your account is private.
And some don’t even bother to go that far – it is so common to see others act without remorse or sensitivity toward faceless users online, that there are those who have no problem being downright abusive to people they have never met, comfortable in a virtual culture that provides no retribution for their actions. When Anita Sarkesian created a Kickstarter to take a look at female tropes in video games for her series Feminist Frequency, many were enthused… She was subjected to an onslaught of hate speech from several channels on the internet, her profile on Wikipedia altered with pornographic images.
And then one man chose to create a game that allowed people to “punch” her until her picture appeared bloodied and bruised.
A large portion of the online community has thrown up their hands in a collective sigh of relief, but a sizable number are enraged – by bringing the names of these people to light, real life identities have been comprised and people’s lives have been altered for the worse.It is still being shouted down as “vigilantism,” when, if a similar piece had been published offline, it would probably be chalked up to “investigative journalism.” Reddit went so far as to block all Gawker links from the website, stating that the group had violated one of the primary foundations of Reddit’s platform – the right to anonymity. If we make every effort to keep our true names off the internet, if we buy a multitude of security platforms, if we friend-lock every social media site we belong to?Enter “locate IP address” into Google and the first page of results offers a site where you can find someone’s location by entering their IP address.The man, who was known to many under the username “Violentacrez,” has now been given a real name and a face, and was fired from his job as a result.The activities this man enjoyed as one of the site’s volunteer moderators are too numerous and abhorrent to begin listing, but yet again, people were outraged.