We use social networks to communicate, keep in touch and express our opinions in a manner that has become completely ubiquitous. However, this very ubiquity and ease of expression have exposed another, contentious side – one where nobody can remain completely anonymous for long and where every conversation is stored in perpetuity. Some fear that the ephemeral quality of a social interaction has been lost, which threatens our right to be forgotten and freedom of expression. In this paper, we look at why people engage in anonymous communication, and if there is a perceived need for legal protection of anonymous communication. Moreover, this paper attempts to identify cultural stratifications, if any, in the ways in which people of various cultures perceive the importance of anonymous communications. The primary cultural clusters we studied are Anglo (e.g. Australia, Canada, England, USA) and Eastern European (e.g. Albania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Russia). Our data set consists of 374 responses to our survey from people belonging to these cultures. We found that perceived freedom afforded by anonymous communication and propensity to trust are both positively related to use of anonymous communication, which in turn is positively related to perceived need for legal protection of anonymous communication. Moreover, we found that the relationship between propensity to trust and use of anonymous communication is stronger for respondents in the Eastern Europe cultural cluster than for respondents in non-Eastern Europe cultural clusters.
Lang, Guido and Mavlanova, Tamilla
"Perceptions and Use of Anonymous Communication across Cultures,"
Journal of International Technology and Information Management: Vol. 24
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarworks.lib.csusb.edu/jitim/vol24/iss1/4