AnonymousCommunicationTheoriesNew - Theorizing About...

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Unformatted text preview: Theorizing About Anonymous About Communication Communication o o o o Anonymous Communication: Anonymous Linked to, but different from, privacy (wide range of things we keep to ourselves) ourselves) Historically linked to freedom of speech (people have the freedom to speak freely and anonymously) freely Especially salient today • New communication technologies increase opportunities for anonymous communication; may also opportunities reveal people’s identity, thus reducing anonymity reveal • Post 9/11 concerns about identity and accountability Post Its use is growing and controversial… • Theory needed to better explain use, predict when it will be effective, understand when/if/how it should be will detected, and control future use detected, Anonymity Pros and Cons o Morally neutral? o Constructive uses Constructive • may produce more honest communication o Less fear of retaliation for unpopular views views • more active participation (in environments where they feel they don’t have a voice) feel o Destructive uses • may reduce accountability in behavior (ex. Hiding behind mask, could lead you to engage in criminal behind behavior) behavior) o Criminal acts o Communication: flaming, cybersmearing • less trust and sincerity of participation (almost counter that it gets more active participation) that • Where Might We See Where “Anonymous” Communication? (won’t need to memorize) “Anonymous” Performance feedback Whistleblowing & leaks Decision making/voting Hotlines/helplines Suggestion boxes/cards Anonymous donors Organizational surveys Junk Mail from strangers or with no return address Remailers and anonymous online sites (4chan) Online support groups & other anonymous organizations Ransom letters Call blocking/identification “Suck” sites and boards Internal/external inquiries about jobs or sensitive info Fun/recreation (pranks) Anonymous reviews of scholarship Anonymous editorials, letters to editor, books, etc. Announcement with no name attached Stage names, handles, screen names, etc. Other o Anonymity: Anonymity: • Anonymity Definitions/Terms o Degree to which message source is perceived as perceived unknown and unspecified to message receiver(s) unknown unspecified (ex. Evaluation for classes; anonymous yet idea (ex. of the group) o Confidentiality: o Message source is known/specified to some, who agree not to reveal; perceived as who anonymous to most (ex. Doctors, therapists, anonymous etc.) etc.) o Pseudonymity: Pseudonymity: o A condition of “false” identity known to be false often done for more recreational (or tracking) often purposes (provide some sense of anonymity but purposes consistency over time. Ex email consistency addresses..special identity you have chosen) addresses..special o Identity o Enduring/central characteristics that describe/define; unique information that makes describe/define; us more known or more specified us o o o o o o o o o o o Gary Marx’s Identity Types Individual identification (names, pseudonyms) Shared identification (i.e., demographics, gender, ethnicity) Geographic/location (address) Geographic/location Temporal (time frames) Networks and relationships (who one is linked to) Objects (possessions/belongings one has or uses) Behavioral (repeated actions one performs) Beliefs, attitudes and emotion (consciousness/mind) Measurement characterizations (physical description; weight, height) Photos/Images Trace information (nonverbal cues that are unique) General Model of Anonymous Communication Anonymous “To reveal or not to reveal…” (Anonymous, 1998) Basic Sender and Receiver Options/Motives o Sender option: make strategically anonymous • risk, threat, mistrust, status inequality, suspect information, low credibility concerns, ease, etc. information, Receiver responses: accept or try to identify o Sender option: make strategically identified • credibility, effectiveness, getting feedback, recognition, ease of identifying, recognition, status/influence, personalizing, etc. Receiver option: accept or try to anonymize o Effectiveness of Sender/Receiver Efforts: Shaped in large part by message and channel (say things only they would have knowledge of…revealing their identity) they A Recent Application of the Model: Anthrax Letters Recent Anthrax o What are influences for source to anonymize? o What influences receivers’ need to identify? o Why was the anonymous source effective for so long in maintaining anonymity? anonymity? Message reveals few clues and channel difficult to trace Receiver Responses to Anonymity (Rains and Scott, 2007) o “To identify or not to identify…” o Much previous work about senders • What motivates/benefits senders will not always be positive for receivers of anonymous messages receivers o Some key assumptions in model: • Anonymity represents a type of uncertainty that we often wish to reduce often • Receivers are actively involved in decisions to accept or reject anonymous communication reject Responses to Anonymous Communication • Some Key Propositions in Model o Desire to identify an anonymous source increases if… • increased need to hold the source accountable • Increased need to evaluate the message • decreased perceptions of anonymity appropriateness (if have low decreased view of anonymity ... have desire to reveal) o Anonymous sources encountered in an interpersonal communication context will be perceived to be less anonymous than those anonymous sources encountered in mass communication contexts. • Interpersonal communication context also linked to greater desire to identify the source and greater potential ability to identify the source o Desire and potential ability must be sufficiently present for receivers to attempt to identify an anonymous source. Framework for Anonymous Organizations Based on Communication of Identity o Anonymous support/hate groups Narcotics anonymous o Front organization Get Government Off Our Backs o Gangs Gangster Disciples o Fraternal orders Freemasonry o Government intelligence/military agencies CIA o Hackers Computer Chaos Club o New religious movements/ cults Church of Scientology o Organized crime groups Yakuzza o Political fundraising organizations 527s o Secret societies Skull and Bones o Select small businesses Jackie Evans o Stigmatized/backstreet businesses Gay bathhouse o Terrorist organization Continuity IRA o Underground organizations (informal economy) Sweatshop Framework for Anonymous Organizations Based on Communication of Identity o Three key dimensions Organizational Visibility o Recognized - - - - - - - - - - - - Anonymous Anonymous Member Identification o Expressive - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Silent Relevant Audience o Mass/global - - - - - - - - - - - - Local/Limited Local/Limited o Creates various transparent, shaded, shadowed, and dark organizations • Communication processes vary across them ...
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