NEWS28 August 2014

Openness rather than bullying behind online anonymity

News North America

US — Consumers tend to use anonymous online identities to be more open and honest, rather than engage in bullying, according to research from the US.


The survey of 1,300 18 – 65 year old adults by Livefyre, the content and audience engagement platform, looked at the motivations and perceptions of consumers who use anonymous identities online.

It found that mean-spirited bullying is not the main reason why consumers resort to using anonymous identities. Most people who use them don’t do so all of the time. So while almost 40% of respondents who comment online have done so anonymously or with pseudonyms, more than 88% still use their real identities at least some of the time, and half use them regularly.

Only 5% of survey respondents said they comment anonymously to make mean-spirited remarks; 48% do so because they feel they can be more open and honest than if they identified themselves. Another 34% cited other reasons, such as protecting their identities for personal security reasons, not wanting to reveal personal beliefs with employers, and preventing bias based on irrelevant data such as race or appearance.

And being forced to reveal their identity puts off many consumers from engaging online. Seventy-eight per cent of respondents who do comment anonymously have chosen not to comment on an article or post because it required them to use their real names. Site loyalty does affect this though. Almost 83% of those who comment anonymously are more likely to authenticate using their real identities on sites they visit frequently or plan to visit frequently.

People are most likely to remain anonymous on sites that polarise views such as ones covering news and politics.


1 Comment

10 years ago

Can we really call this market research? If we ask people do you bully, 95% say no? Social desirability bias makes this an almost worthless question. The headline frankly trivializes the deaths that anonymous posting has led to. A better way to analysis this is to ask people if they have been bullied. Studies reported by report very high levels of bullying as being experienced (over 50% of teens on the receiving end and over 95% witnessing it). The sponsor of the research is Livefyre, they have an interest in promoting social media discussions. The headline from Research-Live will help them, but not the victims.

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