OQpR/C: anonymity, on line, double edge sword

"Does anonymity breed nastiness in the online world?"by Jaron Lanier This is the question bothering me a lot recently after hearing about so many online "human meat search" (a new urban term in China, meaning massive mob collaboratively searching, investigating, condemning and scolding bad behavior netizens. e.g. young lady killing cat event in 2007 in China. There were many nasty comments towards this nasty thing this lady did. Several people involved were almost ruined by the powerful net mobs. If we say the anonymous lady who killed the cat was irresponsible, then how about those among the anonymous crowds throwing out the irresponsible comments?

"People who can spontaneously invent a pseudonym in order to post a comment on a blog or on YouTube are often remarkably mean. Buyers and sellers on eBay are usually civil, despite occasional annoyances like fraud. Based on those data you could propose that transient anonymity coupled with a lack of consequences is what brings out online idiocy. With more data, the hypothesis can be refined. Participants in Second Life (a virtual online world) are not as mean to each other as people posting comments to Slashdot (a popular technology news site) or engaging in edit wars on Wikipedia, even though all use persistent pseudonyms. "

"Since there were so few people online, though, bad “netiquette” was then more of a curiosity than a problem."

"It’s not crazy to worry that, with millions of people connected through a medium that sometimes brings out their worst tendencies, massive, fascist-style mobs could rise up suddenly."

Of course, we all know anonymity could keep our privacy, make people brave to express their opinions, somehow protect people and fight against the authority. But the double edge sword affords people great "freedom" to even abandon their identity and act mean in this anonymous online world. People all know that's mean, I assume, but the world is anonymous, so...

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