Monday, March 28, 2011

Anonymous Social Networking - Formspring, Tumblr and Ask taking more heat

There continues to be a steady and consistent effort to make parents and teens aware of the dangers they could encounter while on-line. However, it seems that there is less and less emphasis being put on the predatory (stranger-danger) aspect of social networking and more emphasis on cyber-bullying and anonymous commenting. There has been an intensified effort not just in the U.S. but globally to quell the increasing popularity of anonymous forums where users can leave anonymous comments. These forums often contain statements that are cruel and hurtful and sometimes directed at a specific individual. This form of bullying is being portrayed as something "different" than schoolyard bullying because the audience is so much greater and the impact more severe.

Silent Sender has addressed the issues of cyber-bullying and has suggested that the root of bullying is in the home and school, not in cyberspace. The fact that anonymous venues exist for teens to vent or express themselves isn't in itself the problem. Teens and young adults have to sort through very complex social issues and the internet has become the place to do it. Emotional conflict and low self-esteem are not a byproduct of being jealous that a friend on Facebook has 1000+ friends and they only have 25 but more likely a natural and normal process of emotional development. A new study suggests that Facebook may actually "cause" depression amongst emotionally vulnerable users because they may perceive a lack of on-line contacts as a failure on their part (or, believe that nobody likes them). The same doctors also admit that social networking sites may not "cause" new occurrences of depression but may be an extension of an ongoing depressive state. More about the Facebook story can be found here.

There is no doubt that social networking sites create an opportunity for abuse. Even non-anonymous forums still allow anonymity because anyone can create a fake email address and setup an account with false credentials. Demonizing social networking sites and "Question" forums because they encourage cyber-bullying is a big reach. Doing away with such sites will just open up new opportunities for teens to socialize in other digital venues that let them express themselves- and the potential for abuse will still exist.

Anonymous messaging and the ability to send an anonymous email and socialize anonymously are important and valuable aspect of the on-line experience.

In the following weeks, Silent Sender will be conducting a survey of users from these sites to fairly gauge the opinions of those users in order to identify the usefulness of anonymous social networking sites and forums. Some preliminary research has already been conducted and initial results are quite surprising. Check back often to find out what we learn.

Discover how to send an anonymous email - Go Silent! The Truth Will Set You Free...


How To Send Anonymous Email - Anonymous Messaging