The Problem of Online Anonymity
The Problem of Online Anonymity
Why the Internet as We Know it Needs to be Fixed
The Internet is great for creating communities, from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to virtual reality worlds like Second Life to multiplayer video games like Minecraft and World of Warcraft. Those new worlds give participants the opportunity to talk about current events, reconnect with old flames and even pretend to be someone else.
What the Internet has not been so good at is sorting out the real from the fake. In some circumstances, like the world of Second Life or the gaming universe of World of Warcraft, determining identity is not at all critical. It really does not matter of the wizard you are fighting is a twelve-year-old girl or a fifty-year-old man. The game play is largely the same.
In other circumstances, the identity of the person on the other side of the screen matters a great deal. If you are talking to someone you want to connect with in the real world, you want to know who they are, and that they are who they say they are. Identity might not matter much for game play, but it matters a great deal for dating and other real-world interactions.
Up until now, the Internet has been pretty bad at confirming identities and giving users confidence that the person on the other side of the screen is really who they say they are. Social media is filled with fake profiles, and users have to take it on faith that the person they are talking to is really the person they claim to be.
Put another way, the anonymity of the Internet has been a double-edged sword, offering a few benefits but even more drawbacks. Some people appreciate the ability to comment anonymously or review goods and services without revealing their identities and inviting blowback from angry merchants. At the same time, the anonymity of those reviews can be, and often is, abused. Many innocent merchants have fallen victim to this problem, with competitors and disgruntled employees posting nasty comments that are almost impossible to refute.
The damaging effects of anonymity is even more apparent on Internet message boards. The ability to hide behind the screen name seems to bring out the worst in people, and these anonymous message boards often degenerate into name calling and incivility. The problem has gotten so bad that many publishers and news organizations have had to shut down their message boards to protect their customers and safeguard their brand images like Amazon owns http://IMDB.com and shutdown comments.
It is clear that the Internet needs to be fixed, but until now there has been no solution in sight. A few prominent companies, including Facebook and Google, have taken steps to combat fake news and eliminate inauthentic profiles, but those moves are only a drop in the bucket. The Internet needs a permanent solution to the problems of fake profiles, fake news, incivility and other problems, and now it has one.
The New Internet seeks to remake the online world, connecting users who know one another and creating a safe community where individuals can discuss current events, talk about products they like and conduct their online business in a safer and more welcoming environment.
At the heart of The New Internet is a brand new browser, one that requires users to prove their identity. No more hiding behind fake screen names, no more spreading false news with repercussions and no more uncivil discourse without consequences. By creating a secure community where users know and respect one another, The New Internet aims to give users all the great things inherent in the online world without the bad side we have seen so much in recent years.