Known Anonymity: The End Of The Internet Troll?

in cryptogee-musings •  2 years ago 

Anonymous Back.png

In the days before social media, and indeed before the internet, bigotry, hatred and racism existed. However it was packaged in a different way, before the internet it was perhaps possible to live your whole life and never experience serious bigotry.

Then along came the world wide web, and social media, and with that came the concept of digital anonymity, and thus the internet troll was born.

Before I continue, this next musing has been inspired by Jay Bozz, aka @bozz, for his (hers?) comment on my article; *Making Good Better By Understanding Hate*. For this reason the comment has won one of the start prizes of 5 Steem in; The Great Steem Giveaway.

I see You, You See Me

My childhood was spent on a housing estate (project) in North London in the 1970s and 80s. At the time, it is not that difficult to argue that England had less tolerant attitudes towards racial issues back then.

Not only that, many things that are considered racist today, were not then. This was reflected in the popular media of the time.

For instance we had a show here called; Love Thy Neighbour, a situation comedy whereby a white family had to come to terms with an Indian family moving in next door to them, the program was littered with language, that is deemed wholly unacceptable today.

However even then, people weren't racist to your face in the same way somebody might be towards you today, whilst you're online.

Enter The Digital Ghosts

Clearly anonymity is empowering, for instance, if you are asked to fill out an appraisal questionnaire at work; you are far less likely to say exactly what you think of your boss and working environment if it isn't anonymous.

So too might a person be emboldened to voice an opinion that may be construed as bigoted or racist, when they are covered by a digital cloak concealing whom they are to the world.

There is a difference of course between an opinion you hold that is unpopular and is perhaps is debatable whether it is racist or not, to one that is obviously so.

This for me is the subtle difference between the commentator and the troll, one is trying to be reasonable, the other is not.

All Cloaks Are Not Equal

If you've ever read far enough down the comment section on a Youtube video, you would probably have read some pretty vile stuff.

Or maybe you've been hanging out watching a live Youtube stream and had the comment section open to the right of the video, and seen Nazi symbols and celebration of genocide.

I believe people do this because most Youtube accounts are not linked to real world profiles.

Many people can't even be bothered to put intelligible names in their Youtube profiles, preferring instead a sequence of random numbers and letters, that make it look like they have just mashed their fingers into the keyboard at random when originally asked for a username.

Steem A New Paradigm

With Facebook came a new type of social media, a syntax was created which required and encouraged people to use their real identities.

Suddenly we were out there, front and centre, showing who we really were, complete with family photos and geographical locations.

It seemed that Zuckerberg and co had recreated live social situations in which people were wary to cause offence.

However since the artificially intelligent learning algorithm has created silos of agreement for us to inhabit, there is a lot less chance of causing offence on Facebook.

Twitter too has some of the problems Youtube has, however it sits somewhere between Youtube and Facebook, in that people care more about their Twitter profiles than they do about their Youtube ones, yet not quite as much as their Facebook pages.

Steem And A Matter Of Care

Where does Steemit fit into this particular picture? Steemit has created an environment whereby you don't have to use your real name, however there are so many important real world actions that can be linked to our Steemit accounts, that it really doesn't pay to spout the kind of vitriol that is spouted on Youtube.

Perhaps the new type of social media, is one that allows a kind of known anonymity.

For instance, a Steemian might keep their true identity perfectly secret. However as time goes on their account becomes more and more important to them, hence the identity of the account becomes more important than that of the holder.

The question is; will this change our online behaviour? Will Steemit be the first of many, known anonymous social media sites; and what will that mean for the future?



Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

Nice post, @cryptogee, my thoughts are that racism used to mean being bigoted against someone, or treating them differently because of their skin color. That was all it meant, it was plain and simple, cut and dry. Nowadays, the institutions of higher education have in essence brainwashed people with their redefined version of racism which is 'every thing is racist'. The people who buy into this idea that everything is racist are educated fools. They can't get over the fact that the education that they spend tens of thousands of their parent's hard earned currency on was actually a colossal waste of both money, and time. I think most of these so called racist people on the internet are just trolls. These new generations of people that buy into the disinformation campaign that 'everything is racist', they walk around with a vest on, each one of these vests has a myriad of buttons. Buttons are for pressing. The trolls who are triggering these idiots, although offensive, are probably doing the world a service in desensitizing them. I'd like to think that a majority of these trolls are real human beings, who would do the right thing in any given situation. Do your part internetizens, and trigger someone today! Simply by not being a fake virtue signaler is enough to trigger people nowadays. For example, Haiti looks like a shithole. I would neither like to live, or visit there.

Maybe the amount of trolls is an equal and opposite reaction to the social justice warrior nonsense?

Interesting point of view, and if I'm to understand your argument, then I would say that you're boiling it down to a chicken and egg scenario, whereby the 'everything is racist point of view' is the chicken, and the troll is the egg.

I would agree in some cases, where by it's clear a troll is trying to gain a reaction from someone they believe to hold overly politically correct views.

However your point about this entire movement of politically correct behaviour coming entirely from a higher education system is perhaps wide of the mark. Ultimately, no matter what you say, or feel about political correctness, it comes from a place of simply trying to be nicer to each other.

It comes from a place of understanding that certain types of language, or reinforcement of negative stereotypes, can cause animosity, and in some cases violence towards certain groups of people.

We saw something like this in Brazil a few years ago, whereby increasingly negative and violent language was being levelled towards homosexuals. This was reinforced by certain politicians joining in the rhetoric. Soon it became OK to joke about bashing gays, I'm sure in many instances these words were defended by the 'it's just a joke' defence.

This culminated in a 15 year old boy being beaten and tortured to death whilst being taunted about being gay. The point of the story wasn't whether particular incidences of hate speech were connected to the death. It was more that in general for a brief period of time, it was acceptable to target homosexuals both verbally and physically.

Sure perhaps in trying to safeguard, perhaps we go too far the other way, however you must recognise the difference between saying a particular country looks like a shithole, is different from saying a certain type of person should be exterminated or beaten up.

Unfortunately some social justice warriors, give social justice a bad name.


There are a couple different types of racist trolls. Ones that meet the original definition of what it once meant to be racist, and ones that fit into that new definition where everything is racist. I prefer the more sophisticated trolls, who aren't racist, but also won't be cowed into not speaking their mind. The funny thing is, people like Paul Watson; he's trolling social justice warriors hardcore, and all he's doing is speaking his mind. Basically, like the king has no clothes allegory. Everyone knew it in their minds, but they didn't want to say it out loud because they were terrified of the consequences. We shouldn't have to be afraid to express ourselves with the words that are rattling around in our heads.

The US is a little more laid back than the UK but the shift that they tried to implement, it happened to quickly, so much so that they're simply going to fail at their agenda. Unless their agenda was to simply move the overton window. What you said about giving social justice a bad name, makes me think that their may be a different type of social justice advocate who doesn't engage in insane zealotry? In my mind this is social justice. When I first saw that clip it was funny and ridiculous, but then things started happening here in the U.S. Things that mirrored the types of things that happened in that ridiculous video. Like for example the shrieking girl at Yale who was flipping out over Halloween costumes, or the incident at Evergreen State college.

The crazy part is social justice warriors would accept me with open arms if I identified as an multidimensional unicorn. So it's all about catering to what people think they are, yet the moment you say something unpopular you are to be crucified. It's just a bunch of mind boggling weirdness to me. But yeah I agree. I don't like real racism, bigotry, or random acts of violence. One of the biggest problems with the social justice movement is that they believe that words that hurt their feelings is the same as violence, and they believe that they can defend themselves from words that they don't like with physical violence. I think they're minds are being intentionally sabotaged.

Wind-up toys that explode when they bump into something. Imagine if instead of teaching social justice, the colleges taught the philosophy of liberty. Magical things would have happened!

"Give me just one generation of youth, and I'll transform the whole world."
― Vladimir Lenin


social life is a virtual reality. And we are spending hypnotized hours in our virtual world of the deadly hours of our lives, which are already limited. Our association with the real world is only in necessity. We are living in a simulation that takes place in reality, which gradually becomes more and more real.
The famous sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who we lost, saw social media as a trap and stated that the true dialogue does not mean talking to people who believe in the same thing as you. Bauman underlined that social media is a trap in this sense, stating that many people do not use social media to open the horizon, use it to enlighten, and only listen to their own voices and see their own faces. people are becoming more and more cruel under unidentified identities! We will see together how bad the situation may be in the future. Thank you for your nice sharing. a meaningful and inquisitive article.

Good points, however I think that with things like Steem, and this new kind of known anonymity, perhaps Bauman's words can be counteracted.

Because without a learning algorithm guiding which voices we hear on Steemit, and with the added factor of genuinely wanting to protect your account's reputation, maybe we are forced into a more realistic, real-world scenario.

In real life we do not have an algorithm, even though we have our friends and family, which could be argued are like a living algorithm, we are not shielded against voices of dissent.

Also in real life, we take care not to publicly show ourselves as fanatical, and are more likely to shy away from what could be considered radical language or behaviour.

It is interesting to see what will happen in the next few years.


In this way, several different results can be produced. I also agree with what you said

Interesting, I can see the truth in what you said.
Steemit seems like the middle of the road conventional social media and real life, in a sense that it promotes civility because of reduced anonymity. I think Steemit has a potential to degrade to a conventional social media, but I do hope it doesn't. For now, steemit seems to be a good step away from the social media trap.

: / hope steemit it will not fall into the traditional situation. it would be frightening.
frankly we do not want to see people attacking each other and constantly shared images of escape :) @jazzhero

that would be terrible indeed. I think the "attacking" happens in a small degree in some other parts of steemit hehe.
But overall in my 15 or so days of steemit-life, I feel that this is a pleasant community that fosters enlightened communication and expression.

I think it is easy for people to become Trolls on social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and even on Facebook because there is "nothing in it for them" on those platforms - other than the satisfaction of harassing people and getting a rise out of their online victims.

I myself have been a victim of cyber bullying on those social platforms and there was really nothing to be done about the harassment other than to "report" those trolls. Most of the time, reporting trolls didn't do a darn thing.

So, I am grateful for a platform like this. Steemit keeps my identity "secret" to a degree. In that case there should be no trolling from my previous abusers.

Also, since there is financial incentive for everyone to use this platform, I think people will be more inclined to treat others on here as they would like to be treated. They will have the good sense to "play nice" here.

Great article and concepts about how our anonymity is portrayed and treated on various sites. Hopefully yes Steemit will be at the vanguard of curating a reputable anonymity. (-:

Steem is to care and be cared.

good post @cryptogee really interesting sir thanks for beautifull explained.

@cryptogee you nailed it.. I was able to decode era and all that transpired.. You are really musing buddy.. Keep it.. Good work.

I had some of my own musings over the concept of identity on steemit, which I summarize as having three components: A) Physical B) Digital C) Consensus. The way we have unofficially structured the introduceyourself posts provides some clues to the points you have raised and I have tried to address with the post:

What are your thoughts?

Steemit certainly does offer a different kind of as you say "known anonymity" with often more honest connections yet one could potentially never reveal a real name and identity. Although within the account a real person is supposed to be verified, that's sort of besides the point.

There is something about the wallet behind the account that makes a difference - one does want to be linked to this in a concrete way and this means that one's identity could be traced within the blockchain.

Additionally the investment of time steemit requires inspires more integrity (of course, I'm speaking generally). And of course the built in downvoting and how quickly people are reprimanded for spammy behavior really breeds a much "nicer" environment. All of which you pointed to....guess I'm just agreeing ;-). As always, I appreciate your thoughtful approach to issues.

And by the way, since I read your post on sarah silverman's response to a troll, all kinds of examples like this have crossed my path going back to last summer. Very cool to learn about how smartly and heartfully some have approached this troll epidemic!

Steemit indeed has fewer trolls :) But I got the impression that it's a matter of accountability, less about identity. The system encourages users to play nice; the flagging mechanic discourages people to troll.
But I guess ... accountability exists because there is an identity that bears that weight? This way, Steemit probably mirrors a real-world setting the most compared to other social media platforms.

But I guess ... accountability exists because there is an identity that bears that weight?

Exactly, and even though we may not use our real names, the identity, or rather the reputation of the identity becomes important. Which for me is more akin to real life, just like if you go to a party with someone, but hate all the people there. Few of us would do anything other than make polite conversation till we left, we wouldn't instantly start insulting and offending people.

Maybe Steemit isn't the final solution to trolling, but I feel we're moving in the right direction.


Maybe Steemit isn't the final solution to trolling, but I feel we're moving in the right direction.

True. Steemit and real-world alike can suppress trolls. Because of one's instincts to protect themselves, no one unnecessarily acts out because of perceived consequences.

But the intent behind all the trolling still remains - which I think is a problem both online and offline interactions.

Thanks for the shout out. I am humbled that I could inspire you. Sorry it took me so long to find this. There is a lot of stuff on Steemit! :)