The changes we’re calling for…

Anonymity is abused to send hateful and harmful content on social media. A recent study found that almost three-quarters of those in the UK who have experienced online abuse say it at least some of it came from anonymous accounts. Anonymity can make abuse scarier for those on the receiving end, and can make it harder to track down abusers or hold them to account.

However, anonymity can also be an important source of protection for vulnerable groups, or whistle-blowers, which would make an outright ban on all anonymity problematic. That means we’re calling for changes to the design of social media platforms to stop the *misuse* of anonymous accounts, and to give social media users more control over whether or not anonymous users can interact with them.

We’re calling for 3 key changes:

1.

Give every social media users the right to choose to verify their identity.

Every social media user should be given the option of a robust, secure means of verifying that the identity they are using on social media is authentic. Users who wish to continue unverified should be free to continue to do so. Research suggests that a large majority of UK social media users would be willing to verify their accounts.

2.

Make it easy for everyone to see whether or not a user is verified.

The verification status of an individual user should be clearly visible to all other users. Every social media user should be able to block or limit communication, comments, and other interaction from unverified users as a category.

3.

Give users the option to block interaction with unverified users.

Some users will be happy to hear from, and interact with, unverified users. Others will not. This should be a matter of individual user choice. Each user should be able to bring their own judgement as to what verification status might say about the credibility and reliability of another user’s content.

You can read a lot more about these proposals, and the evidence for why anonymity is a risk factor which fuels abuse and disinformation, over at cleanuptheinternet.org.uk

The UK government is currently working on a new Online Safety law. We are calling on them to include these measures to limit harm from anonymous accounts as part of that law.

We will be sharing the testimonies gathered on this site with MPs as they debate the new law. This will include presenting them as evidence to committees of MPs tasked with scrutinising the law, and presenting individual MPs with testimonies gathered from their constituencies.