We all have things we’d rather not tell the world about. Whatever the reason, it’s about time to clear up a few things about online anonymity. Some of us set our privacy settings to restrict some people from viewing our Facebook accounts or Twitter feeds. Some use tricks to hide their IP addresses. But are these enough to answer the question whether it’s really possible to be truly anonymous online?
Two types of people in this virtual world
On one hand, there are some people really serious about utilising the benefits this age of information offers. They go online to build their own brands, such as writers, entrepreneurs, etc. They go online to make friends. They reveal some of their personal information without fear (Asher-Perrin 2012).
On the other hand, there are some other people who join this virtual world with fake identities. They can fake everything from profile pictures, names and even fake opinions. Obviously, the so-called anonymity allows them to do and say things in a negative manner. Although not all pseudonyms on the Internet is like that, but the cyber world is a perfect place to hide (Asher-Perrin 2012).
Nothing is safe in this era of technology
Let’s try this. Google the phrase “locate IP address”. The results varies. There is a site where you can find someone’s location by entering their IP address. There are YouTube videos that tell you how to find the IP addresses of anyone you email. There are websites that look up photos of a person based on the name (Asher-Perrin 2012). And if you’ve got a tech-savvy friend, they can likely come up with far more information than these tricks. Interestingly, as last-semester students, we have also been advised to clean up our Facebook profiles before graduation (Cohen 2012). Prospective employers might check and find out about our whole “dirty” history.
So, the final answer is…
You are not anonymous. Anything you do and say on the Internet is being watched, by more people than you could imagine. If you cannot stand these then perhaps you’ve picked the wrong place to visit. The Internet is not where you hide – it’s where you are found (Asher-Perrin 2012).
If you do not want to live in the woods or a remote area, but in the world with modern technologies, you have to pay the price. And some of that has to do with sharing your data.
Angwin, J 2014, ‘If You Think You’re Anonymous Online, Think Again’, NPR, 24 February, viewed 24 April 2015, <http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/02/24/282061990/if-you-think-youre-anonymous-online-think-again>.
Asher-Perrin, E 2012, ‘You Are Not Anonymous: On Internet Privacy and the War On Trolls’, Tor.com, 24 October, viewed 24 April 2015,<http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/10/you-are-not-anonymous-on-internet-privacy-and-the-war-on-trolls>.
Cohen, D 2012, ‘OnlineDegrees.org’s 25 Essential Steps To Clean Up Your Facebook Profile Before Graduation’, SocialTimes, 3 October, viewed 24 April 2015, <http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/onlinedegrees-orgs-25-essential-steps-to-clean-up-your-facebook-profile-before-graduation/404401>.