All the frequently asked questions about this campaign answered in one place.
What’s the purpose of this site?
Abuses of Anonymity is a place to share testimonies of abuse from anonymous accounts on social media. Cataloguing stories of experiences of anonymous abuse helps show how big the problem is, and builds the case for change. This will help debates about how social media platforms can be improved, and how they can best be regulated, be informed by the experiences of ordinary users who have been on the receiving end of abuse.
How will you use the stories?
This site acts as a catalogue of stories for the whole world to see. We hope this acts as a powerful source of evidence, including for journalists, social media companies, and politicians.
In addition, we will be formally submitting stories from this site as evidence to UK parliamentary committees which are considering the UK’s Online Safety Bill, and sharing them with MPs to persuade them to support measures to tackle misuses and abuses of anonymity.
Who’s organising this?
This site is a project of Clean Up The Internet.
Who’s funding this project?
The Abuses Of Anonymity project is fully funded by Clean Up the Internet – you can read more about Clean Up The Internet – including who funds it – here.
What will you do with the testimony when the campaign is finished?
At the end of the project, we will ensure that the testimony is deleted along with any other sensitive data.
Why are you allowing anonymous submissions?
We recognise that given the sensitivity of the subject matter some people will be nervous about sharing their name and we want to ensure anyone affected by anonymous abuse feels able to participate.
This isn’t a social media site. We’re not enabling users of this site to comment on each others’ posts or contact other users, so there is no risk of them sending anonymous abuse.
When we share testimonies with decision-makers such as MPs we will make it clear which testimonies were shared anonymously and where a name has been provided. We encourage people to provide a name where they feel able to do so.
What about members of the LGBTQ+ community for whom anonymity is important?
We recognise that for some social media users, including some members of the LGBTQ+ community, anonymity helps them feel safe online. We also recognise that some members of the LGBTQ+ community suffer high levels of anonymous abuse. Clean Up The Internet have consulted members of the LGBTQ+ community in developing our proposals. We recognise that some still have concerns about any efforts to reduce anonymity.
Firstly, it’s important to stress that we are not proposing to “ban” all use of anonymity. Under our proposals those LGBTQ+ users who wanted to stay anonymous would be able to do so. The two changes they would experience are 1) it would be clear to other users that they were anonymous, or using a pseudonym, and 2) some other users who didn’t follow them may chose to limit interaction from them as an unverified account.
Our research suggests that our proposals would greatly restrict the ability of anonymous users to harm, harass, abuse, or deceive other users, but would have much less of an impact on users wishing to be anonymous for other reasons.
Secondly, it will be important that verification processes are developed which make diversity and inclusion a priority, and this will need to include input from the LGBTQ+ community. Verification processes will need to be accessible to people who don’t have easy access to identification documents like a passport or driving license, and for those (e.g. trans people) whose chosen name or gender isn’t the same as the name on their official documentation. There’s more detail on how this can be done, here.
Thirdly, we believe the Online Safety Bill should require all large social media platforms to regularly report on the equality, diversity and inclusivity of their platforms, and to consider the impact on equality of their design, systems, processes and functionalities. This would include any verification systems, and any limits on the reach on unverified accounts, so that any unintended consequences could be identified and addressed.
Hasn't Twitter just released a report into abuse of footballers saying anonymity isn't the problem?
Twitter issued a blog post last week in which they claimed, of racist abuse directed at England footballers following the Euros final, that “ID verification would have been unlikely to prevent the abuse from happening – as the accounts we suspended themselves were not anonymous.”
They did not provide any evidence to support this claim, or offer any explanation of how they had analysed the data or how it compared to other incidents of racist abuse. We have challenged them to provide such evidence, and they have so far failed to provide it.
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