Personalization vs. Anonymity

In chapter 4 of The Filter Bubble, Eli Pariser describes Mark Zuckerberg’s push for the personalization and de-anonymization of the internet. “As law and commerce have caught up with technology…the space for anonymity is shrinking” (111). According to Facebook and Google, anonymity must be removed from the internet to better reflect the structure of our society and protect us, but people still push for freedom on the web. So, according to my experience and research, it seems it is the large internet companies versus the people.

Pariser seems convinced that the web is moving away from anonymity, but according to my research, there are still a enough practical uses for anonymous communication. There are still enough people who are excited about the early visions of the web, where anonymity was a communication norm. There is still a desire in our society for outlets where we can express ourselves in unique ways. My research suggests that there are a significant amount of people moving toward anonymous communication by using Twitter more and phasing out Facebook. Twitter’s numbers also show that anonymity might be here to stay:

#tweets

  • 3 years, 2 months and 1 day. The time it took from the first Tweet to the billionth Tweet.
  • 1 week. The time it now takes for users to send a billion Tweets.
  • 50 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, one year ago.
  • 140 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, in the last month.
  • 177 million. Tweets sent on March 11, 2011.
  • 456. Tweets per second (TPS) when Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 (a record at that time).
  • 6,939. Current TPS record, set 4 seconds after midnight in Japan on New Year’s Day.

#accounts

  • 572,000. Number of new accounts created on March 12, 2011.
  • 460,000. Average number of new accounts per day over the last month.
  • 182%. Increase in number of mobile users over the past year
From 140-character messages to academic forums and beyond, there are possibilities for constructive anonymity on the internet, but we often notice the nonconstructive because it is easier to define and point out. How does anonymity affect the human experience? To echo Katey’s thoughts, anonymity exacerbates what is already a part of us.
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