Surely, anonymity and fake accounts support destructive behaviours.
Analysing this rationally, the most common forms of mobbing and cyberbullying:
- Cyberstalking and Harassment: Relentless monitoring and sending of offensive and/or threatening messages to the target victim. Multiple people may even gang up to send thousands of messages to the victim at once.
- Impersonation or Fraping or Masquerading: When someone creates a fake profile and uses another person’s name. The cyberbully pretends to be their victim online and acts in ways to tarnish the victim’s reputation.
- Flaming and Trolling: Repeated and intentional exchange of unconstructive, angry, rude, inflammatory or obscene messages/comments online. It can also intimidate and prevent people from posting their actual thoughts.
- Shaming or Dissing or Outing: Attempt to damage the victim’s reputation or ruin the friendships by spreading private information without permission or unfounded gossip or rumours.
- Exclusion: When someone has been intentionally excluded or singled out from online group activities such as group conversations and multiplayer games.
- Trickery: Tricking their victim into believing they are having safe conversations, with the intent to learn private information to then use for Shaming, Impersonation or Outing.
Specific to cyberbullying, fake profiles are often used to manifest the act. Otherwise said, fake/unverified profiles hide people’s real identities that can then be used to either engage in cyberbullying or drive alternative agendas.
IMPORTANT: There are use cases where alternative profiles may be better than using your live profile. Specific to Twitter, I do not believe the intended communication was for Twitter to achieve 100% verified accounts. I understood it as giving a broader capability to people to validate their accounts. This would make the distinction between what was posted by “bots” and what was posted by “individuals” more streamlined. Also, with verified accounts, I am confident people will become a bit more considerate as they post and engage.
Let us know what you think!. We believe in productive discourse and welcome opportunities to refine our understanding through discussion. Comment in the comments area below or reach out on firstname.lastname@example.org