Anonymity is powerful and appealing. More voices expressing more ideas with more openness is a wonderful ideal. People have shared deeply personal stories, expressed controversial or illegal political opinions and pointed out corruption.
But anonymity can also be incredibly toxic and sometimes deadly. People hide behind anonymity to distribute child pornography and stolen or private images. Anonymous actors encourage individuals to harm others or themselves, and can instill fear of being raped or killed. The Internet amplifies these effects—and it is becoming the new normal.
We need to manage anonymity and ourselves to protect privacy and encourage ideas, participation and openness. That’s why I banned revenge porn on Reddit when I was CEO. We must all make an extra effort to be respectful of each other, so we don’t stifle the very things anonymity is intended to promote.
Pao is an investor, entrepreneur and former Reddit CEO