Study: Trolls Are Even Worse When Using Real Names
from the it's-not-the-anonymity dept
It’s a bit of “common wisdom” on the internet that you hear people repeat all the time, even though it’s hogwash: the idea that people act trollishly online because they’re anonymous. So many people want to blame the anonymity and demand real name policies. Yet, as we’ve been pointing out for many years, plenty of people troll under their real names — and tons of valuable content is posted by anonymous users (including right here at Techdirt).
And now we’ve got a bit of research to back that up. Some recent research found that trolls can actually act even worse when they troll under their real name. From the research:
Results show that in the context of online firestorms, non-anonymous individuals are more aggressive compared to anonymous individuals. This effect is reinforced if selective incentives are present and if aggressors are intrinsically motivated.
Now, this is just one report on one dataset, and there may be a variety of other factors at play. But it certainly matches with our own experience here as well. The idea that people only act like jackasses because they’re anonymous just doesn’t fit with the pattern we’ve seen in the over 1 million comments we have on this site. Yes, sometimes there are anonymous jerks, just like there are sometimes named jerks. But on the whole, anonymity doesn’t seem to magically lead to worse comments.