Anonymity Serves Purpose in Online Comments 

Commenting anonymously benefits discussion

By: Amanda Scott, Jan 30, 2019

Anonymous online comments can bring out the worst in people; that’s not news. Anonymous commenters are sometimes responsible for more contrarian, extreme opinions, incivility and hatred than any other online commenters. 

However, anonymity in online comments doesn’t have to be synonymous with negativity, vitriol, trolling and otherwise outrageous behavior. Anonymity can serve a beneficial purpose in online comments! 

Given the aforementioned information about anonymity, it’s hard to take those commenters and what they say seriously regardless of whether it’s hate speech or a well-articulated argument. In a way, anonymity serves as a beneficial self-regulating tool in online comment sections that requires users to think twice about commenting anonymously; people discredit anonymous or pseudonymous commenters more than easily identifiable commenters simply because they’re unidentified.

A benefit of the ability to comment anonymously is that those who would otherwise not comment or express their views feel empowered to do so. When people can post without disclosing their identity, they feel they can share the political views, opinions about neighborhood issues or issues at their workplace without bringing trouble upon themselves. 

Along the same regard as the two benefits mentioned previously, commenting anonymously “levels the commenting field” so to say. When a person in power or someone who holds an office or position of means chooses to comment anonymously, the power or status attached to that person is removed, allowing the logic of the argument to speak for itself. The discussion and argument become the focus rather who is making the argument. 

Candid app creator, Bindu Reddy, believes in the value of anonymous comments because she sees it all the time with her app which allows users to post messages anonymously.  

In an interview with Fortune magazine in 2016, Reddy said, “I definitely think it’s possible to create a place where people can have thoughtful discussions anonymously. I see examples of that every day.” 

She goes on to explain how anonymity allows for “more frank discussions” because it allows people to “get a sense of connection on a topic right away – it breaks down the barriers,” she explained. “People don’t know who I am, so they’re not judging me – saying ‘Here’s this brown girl saying this,’ or ‘Here’s this old white guy.’ Instead, people connect around the idea.”