Digital Masks can be used to protect the vulnerable wearer, but also abuse the vulnerable. Masks such as a twitter handle or login name protect the identity of the wearer and protect the wearer from the consequences of their actions. However, digital masks can also create atmospheres of dishonesty, deception and trickery.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, reported a dramatic rise in the number of journalists being jailed from 2012 to 2015. When faced with these statistics of journalists currently imprisoned, it is understandable why some journalists prefer to be anonymous. Citizens in many countries are denied information as their governments censor the internet and media coverage.
“When a botched military operation resulted in the deaths of 35 Kurdish civilians” the media was supressed, and ‘the news first broke on Twitter”.
As long as citizens have access to Social Media there will always be someone removing the veil of misinformation and ignorance, currently worn by many citizens. These reporters often report news anonymously.
The group “Anonymous seeks awareness and revolution against corrupt entities.“
This unregulated, anonymous group are beyond reprimand because no one knows who or where they are, and that is fine as long as they are on our side. While Anonymous have an appearance of power and claim to do great things, there is obviously a more sinister path this type of anonymous power can go.
Done well, cybercrime thrives because of the mask worn by anonymous perpetrators. This digital mask is not as easily removed as physical masks worn by thieves in years past. Phishing, pharming, incorrectly advertised goods and services, cybercrime involving all kinds of malware, ransom ware and viruses flood the internet.
For example – Faux landlords are accepting deposits for houses that do not exist. This is done in advance of the tenant viewing a property. Catfishing and social engineering, or pretending to be someone you are not for emotional, social or financial gain. Phishing – attempting to gain usernames and passwords which may lead to your identity being stolen.
The mask of anonymity can also be a method of control or propaganda as misinformation is spread. Users of Web 2.0 need to be aware that any fool can contribute, create, or imitate an expert. This may be discernible to analytical minds, but the vulnerable, the young, the elderly, are at risk of believing this misinformation.
It is a big bad world out there. Full of governments suppressing media, corporations controlling media, and regular people being plain dishonest for personal gain. Yet the very mediums used for control and confusion are used for education and liberation. Users need to question the validity of information, and the author’s motives for disseminating this information.
As digital natives, we should question everything and be aware of our responsibility to be honest producers. A good rule when wearing the mask of anonymity is to never do what you wouldn’t do in person. Liam O Murchu– said on the RTE program ‘Hacked’ on Monday the 14th that
“It’s about trying to get that balance between enabling good and protecting against bad”
To view the Powerpoint presentation please go to: Digital Masks Use and Abuse