New Topics in Social Computing: Free Expression and Online Anonymity

Hours: 7:00PM-9:00PM
Cost: Free

In this discussion we will consider how anonymity has shaped our experiences with the internet. It was once a defining characteristic of life online. Until the rise of social media, internet users rarely identified themselves with pictures or real names. The early years of the internet were a singular opportunity to exchange ideas freely without our personal history influencing other people’s expectations of our skills or intellect. The freedom of expression that online anonymity offers can create a safe space for young people to explore their sexuality or complicate other parts of their identity. But more recently, it enables hostile comments on Twitter and other social networks. Spaces like Reddit that sometimes resemble Usenet and chat rooms from years ago also host hateful and unseemly comments . Meanwhile the app Whisper, which promotes itself as an anonymous forum, has come under scrutiny for egregious privacy violations. Some technology commentators are calling for an end to anonymity to curb online bullying. What do we lose as our ability to be truly anonymous online recedes?
Panelists: Seda Gurses, Katherine Cross, Sandra Ordonez

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People: Joanne McNeil