Anonymity on social media and its ugly consequences
Platforms must act to restrain the use of online identity masks as a licence to behave in uncivil ways
For the past few months, I have been receiving at least one disturbing message of unknown origin on WhatsApp daily. Many of these forwarded messages are crafted from partial truths. As their content makes clear, the ulterior aim of these ‘forwards’ is to sharpen differences between the followers of two religions and re-ignite one of the oldest conflicts in human history. Digital platforms are being used for many other ills, too, such as spreading fake news and trolling one’s opponents. In recent times, digital media has been used to incite many a violent act in the physical world too. Digital media giants have been experimenting with multiple ways to filter out or label negative or misleading posts. But they have not had much success. Many observers are worried that these trends could affect digital media’s image and harm its future.