Online anonymity brings bad behavior

As I have posted before, I am often appalled at the bad manners and uncivilized conduct that I see on the Internet. I don’t mean the criminal or sociopathic activities that are out there, although that’s plenty bad. I refer to ordinary people who, when cloaked by the anonymity of the Internet, turn nasty. The New York Times recently carried an opinion piece on the subject by Julie Zhuo, a product design manager at Facebook. In her discussion, she notes:

Psychological research has proven again and again that anonymity increases unethical behavior. Road rage bubbles up in the relative anonymity of one’s car. And in the online world, which can offer total anonymity, the effect is even more pronounced. People — even ordinary, good people — often change their behavior in radical ways. There’s even a term for it: the online disinhibition effect.

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