Criminals Wear a Mask for a Reason

What’s in a fake name?  Do you ever occlude your identity online and have you ever generated a random identity to fool the cyberworld?  If yes, why?  If not, why not?

Last week, the Norton Cybercrime Report released information that the use of fake names on the internet is rising — and that’s a terrible thing for democracy and transparency in content creation:

The anonymous online world we live in enables many of us to engage in activities that would be clearly illegal if done in the physical world.

Nearly half of respondents to the Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact felt it “legal” to download a single music track, album or movie without paying (17%, 14%, and 15% respectively.)

So while we’re besieged by online cybercrime, we often engage in forms of online theft, misrepresentation, defacement and simple lying without recognizing our own hypocrisy. We are complicated beasts, aren’t we?

Anne Collier, of NetFamilyNews and co-chair of the Congressional committee, “Online Safety & Technology Working Group” said, “Sometimes people create alternate identities or screen names online if they want to say something anonymously.

Research also shows that users will fictionalize their social network profiles to fend off people who aren’t their friends offline.”

Why would someone ever want to say something anonymously?  We must own our words and ward our behavior.  Anonymity excites hatred and breeds revulsion.

Criminals wear masks and gloves because there is security in anonymity when their antisocial instinct to act, but not get caught, arises unbound by responsibility and morality.

How can we best determine our security online while also guaranteeing we know the people we are meeting are actually who they claim to be without question?