A Multi-faceted Approach to Anonymity Online: Examining the Relations between Anonymity and Antisocial Behaviour

Rebecca Chui


This article reviews the literature on the relations between anonymity in antisocial behaviour: does online anonymity qualitatively alter online behaviour, encouraging antisocial behaviour online? Or does online anonymity have no effect on the exhibition of antisocial behaviour? I argue that this line of thought presents an unsatisfactory dichotomy as it does not sufficiently account for individual contexts. Anonymity alone is not adequate to induce antisocial behaviour: it requires the motivation to act in that manner. I argue that the development of this motivation to exhibit antisocial behaviour involves a multifaceted perspective that consolidates the self (e.g. socio-economic backgrounds and the degree of value placed on anonymity) with the other (e.g. group norms). This is, in turn, influenced by the chosen media channel (e.g. games, forums, virtual worlds, chat-rooms), the presence of any wider motivations (political and sociological), and the degree of anonymity afforded by the media channel; these factors affect the way anonymity is perceived and utilised.


anonymity; online; antisocial behaviour

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4101/jvwr.v7i2.7073

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