Anonymity Facilitates Changing Opinions

Digital Privacy

In his book Literature/Permanent Record, Edward Snowden argues that in the early days of the internet—before there was a commercial interest in linking your offline and online identities—the anonymity provided encouraged you to change your opinions.

Nowadays, if your viewpoint is challenged on the internet, the natural tendency is to dig in and resist for fear of embarrassment. Online behaviour has become personal, and while much of the toxicity facilitated by anonymity has been tamed, words and actions have become much more final, leaving little room for experimentation.

The early Internet’s dissociative opportunities actually encouraged me and those of my generation to change our most deeply held opinions, instead of just digging in and defending them when challenged. This ability to reinvent ourselves meant that we never had to close our minds by picking sides, or close ranks out of fear of doing irreparable harm to our reputations.

— Edward Snowden

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