The anonymity of the Internet allows our citizens to post the most vile, racist and hateful comments imaginable. It brings out the worst in humans.
Plato asked: If we were shielded from the consequences of our actions, how would that change the way we act? We now know the answer. Anonymous apps like Yik Yak coarsen personal relations. Civil libertarians will argue that anonymity protects dissidents, but my guess is that authoritarian regimes can trace users in the same way Ashley Madison’s users were unmasked. Social media were supposed to be the new public square. Instead it’s a Tower of Babel, with thousands venting anger, and little or no understanding.
Taplin is director of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab