Anonymity and Social Media

Even though the advances of technology and social have enabled people to connect and communicate more easily, it has negative effects, such as using anonymity online to hurt and bully people. News everywhere are shown often of young people committing suicide because they were bullied online. Cyber bullying could involve sending harmful messages online, harassment, threats, and humiliation involving the use of social media. It makes you think, why do people feel more prone to hurt others when they are hiding behind anonymity? And, what is it about anonymity online that changes a person’s identity or personality and makes them want to bully people on the web?

A study conducted in Taiwan with high school students as participants tried to evaluate the use of an anonymous presence online and its association with cyber bullying behavior. The results determined that the use of a high level of anonymity and reduced social cue lead to create higher degrees of cyber bullying behavior (Wu & Lien, 2013). There exists a perception of anonymity that comes with lowered feelings of accountability that could result in reduced public self-awareness. If someone is bullying another person online, and the victim does not know who the bully is, then the bully might increase the abuse since he or she will feel like there is no way they could be traced or could be held accountable for their actions.

You see evidence of these types of behaviors in all social media. If you go to youtube and look at the comment section, you will encounter people offending other people by insulting them simply because they do not agree with their opinions. On twitter, you will encounter the same situation; tweets are sent to other people with threats. In a way, social media enables people to take on different identities, or helps them create a new one. Manago, Graham, Greenfield, and Salimkhan suggest that the flexibility of communication capacities frees individuals from existing at the effect of an externally created media environment, and that identity becomes socially constructed in environments such as a chat room (2008). A young boy who decides to participate in a chat room about video games could see the different interactions of his peers. These interactions could include some users calling other user names, or bullying, and this young boy might determine that these people do not face any consequences for their actions; therefore he might want to decide to take on the same type of personality or identity online, and he could start cyber bullying his peers.

Intervention for these types of behaviors can start at home. Parents could monitor the websites their children visit and see how they are behaving online. If they do see that there is a behavior that should be stopped, then they can talk to their children about the negative effects these actions might cause on other people. At schools, principals, teachers and other staff members could give seminars to the students and to staff that show the effects of cyber bullying, and together they could create protocols for reporting cyber bullying and how they could intervene to prevent or stop these behaviors.


Manago, Graham, Greenfield, & Salimkhan (2008) Self-presentationand gender on MySpace. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 29(6)

Wu, W. P., & Lien, C. C. (2013). Cyberbullying: An empirical analysis of factors related   to anonymity and reduced social cue. Applied Mechanics and Materials, 311, 533.

1 comment

  1. Hillary Renee Tilles

    I can really relate to this post because I was a victim of cyber-bullying in middle and high school. There was a hate group made on Facebook by a boy I thought was my friend. I have also seen cyber-bullying on twitter and comment sections, people use such vulgar language and insulting words because they can get away with it without anyone finding out who they are. Because my parents did monitor my internet activity, they were able to help and stop the Facebook page from getting any bigger and helped me get through tough times when I was feeling upset about it. Had they not monitored my activity they could have never helped me through that rough time because I hadn’t wanted to tell them about it. I think the opposite could also help, with the growing abilities of parental controls.

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