Technology 101: Anonymity: The dark side of the internet

by Oluwatobi Soyombo

The freedom to connect to the world anywhere at any time brings with it the threat of unsuspicious predators and criminals who mask their activities with the anonymity the internet provides to its users. – Mike Fitzpatrick

Great as it is, the internet has one dark side among others – anonymity! Today, it is more difficult to know which online personality is real and who is not with thousands of conversations going on each second. This deception is common on twitter with so many people opening parody accounts. As it is, that’s one of the negative side of Social Media we may have to live with. How do I mean?

Someone, somewhere in the corner of his room decides to create another personality other than himself. He calls it the online version of himself. He chooses a name such as Tom Smith. Then he proceeds to create email accounts such as [email protected], [email protected] and the likes. Off to Facebook and Twitter he goes. He creates accounts on as much Social Media platform as he has access to. As if that’s not enough, he then creates another personality for another purpose and goes through the same process.

With these accounts, he ensures he uses different tones on each. He can even set different locations for each. And so on, just to hide his real identity. Both good and bad have been through this method. Many have fallen victim of this. At times, people get into deep conversations with a stranger just because he/she has been following them on twitter for over 6 months only to discover that they’ve been talking to a fraudster. The deed has been done. BUT, his good tweets won’t make it easy believe at first sight. You see, “It’s too easy to be and say anything with the anonymity of the internet.”

Here are five quick tips for dealing with anonymity:

  • Always strive to take your friendship beyond the internet. Request for a meet-up somewhere, somehow. He doesn’t show up after few attempts and always gives an excuse for it? Err, you just caught him. Do not take him serious henceforth.
  • If you can’t meet-up offline due to distance, identify someone who has an offline relationship with such person. Ensure it’s someone you’ve met (and not another anonymous account) and trust.
  • You can also request a video chat via Skype. Often may be.
  • Treat confidential as confidential online, recipient notwithstanding.
  • Be smart. Always!

So, should you stop interacting with people you’ve never met? NO! Doing that will defy the whole idea behind the WWW. Just ensure you have bankable proofs before you get deep with anyone over the WWW.


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