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Anonymity on social media

By Paige Hastings on 24 Nov, 2014

Earlier this year, a friend of mine introduced me to Secret, an anonymous social media app.  I had heard about a few of these and as it was free to download I thought I would give it a try.  

These platforms, including Whisper and SecretNumber, provide people with a platform to post what they really think, without being restricted by their identity, or a status they hold in the real world. They have steadily been increasing in popularity this year, developing a trend away from traditional social media such as Facebook, which encourage users to broadcast a very public digital identity.

I was keen to see what people would post online when any sense of an identity was removed. At the time, popular topics on Secret included ‘Gaza’, ‘Weddings’, ‘Food’ and ‘Dating’.  Gaza was a topic that immediately caught my eye – it was bound to be very controversial.  What do people really think?  

I found Secret unexpectedly addictive, as I felt sucked into a world of Chinese whispers and malicious rumours. I can see why anonymous social media is so popular.  Where am I going with this?  Well, when using these sites, it’s really important to remember that most of the things you read are untrue or are an opinion.  Although it can feel exciting, its good practice every so often to remind yourself that as it is a social media platform and that all internet users have the opportunity to contribute.

This also means that you must be careful what YOU post! Although it may seem anonymous, it is safe to assume that nothing you post online will ever by completely secure or private. As whatever you contribute will be out-there forever, it is a good idea to consider any negative consequences of a post if the anonymity were to be removed.  Would you still post it then?

PARENTS, are your children using these apps? It is important they are not lulled into a false sense of security. Ensure they are aware that even though they may feel completely anonymous, there are consequences for their actions. Are they posting things that may hurt or harm others? Or are they vulnerable to being trolled or bullied themselves?

For more information head to our advice page for parents.

Paige Hastings is our Social Media Advisor and a guest blogger for Get Safe Online.