I’ve just finished reading a TechCrunch article that outlines how Facebook’s new anonymous app might be able to give users the security to have personal, open-hearted discussions under a pseudonym without the usual onslaught from trolls, characteristic of anonymous platforms.
But how is this possible?
It is well known that people are more likely to tell the truth behind the safety of a facade. This is not unique to social media, but a part of human nature.
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.” Oscar Wilde
However, this goes both ways. Not only are people more willing to share the truth, but they are also more comfortable being mean as they don’t have to face the consequences of their actions (page 4). This behaviour is very prevalent online, with trolls hurting people’s feelings and brand reputations for the LOLs.
Dealing with trolls has often been described as playing “whack-a-mole” as there is nothing stopping a banned user creating a new account under another pseudonym so that they may continue their pillaging.
Facebook has spent a number of years trying to maintain Facebook’s interaction integrity and it is these efforts, in conjunction with their upcoming app, which may take the abolition of trolls to the next level.
Ok, ok. It is rumoured that Facebook will allow you to log in anonymously using your Facebook account. Facebook will still know it’s you, but your friends/connections will not. As such, you’ll be able to put on your mask and share your thoughts, ideas, and secrets anonymously.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TROLLS?!
Like I said, it is rumoured that you would log in using your Facebook account. As such, if you were to troll someone or act in a way that breaks Facebook’s terms and conditions you would be reported and banned from the site. As you require a Facebook account to login anonymously, it would be more difficult for you to build a legitimate account with a number of real users, interactions, photos, and so on in less than a month. In addition, if your Facebook account were to be banned you would have to think of an excuse as to why you’ve set up a new account/need your “friends” to re-add you. Not only will it take you a few months to set up a “legitimate” account so that you can troll your “friends” anonymously, but if it happens more than once you may be identified as the troll and face the consequences for your actions. As such, the cost of doing the wrong thing would far outweigh the benefits of trolling.
- There are always those that play the system. The new age trolls may try to get users banned from the anonymous platform so that they have to not only rebuild their Facebook account, but also explain why they were banned. Similarly, fraping may take a new turn where the user is not publically embarrassed for having accidently left their Facebook open, but used to anonymously troll another user. I’m not really sure, but the trolls will always try and find a way, given that the benefit of trolling outweighs the cost of trying.
- As identified in the TechCrunch article, users would have to trust Facebook for this to work. That is, Facebook would have to stop switching users privacy settings with each new update and having very public default settings.
I am keen to follow the unveiling of Facebook’s new app and how it can be utilised not only by individuals, but also how it will integrate with the onymous Facebook platform and affect community management practices.
 Oscar Wilde, Jules Barbey D’Aurevilly & Lady Wilde, intentions: the decay of lying; pen, pencil, and poison; the critic as artist 185 (Lamb Publ’g Co. 1909)