The Youth IGF Project was created by Childnet in 2009 to include the voice of children and young people at the Internet Governance Forum.
This year, five young people aged 15-18 years from across the UK attended the IGF 2013 and chaired their own workshop on Online anonymity, freedom of expression and internet governance - a wide-ranging discussion between youth, industry and civil society.
They presented the results of their global survey into online anonymity, which involved over 1,300 people from across 68 countries. The survey found that two-thirds had communicated online without revealing their identity in the last year. The most common methods of anonymous online communication were leaving an anonymous comment (51%) and using a service that you don’t have to register for (40%). The most popular reason for being anonymous online was to protect personal information – with 65% of respondents selecting this reason. It was the most common reason for being anonymous across all age groups.
Many people feel they can express themselves more freely if they are anonymous. 59% of respondents said they are more likely to say what they want online if they are anonymous. However, this can sometimes result in anonymous users being abusive. 71% felt that people are nastier if they are anonymous on the internet, 37% said they had received abuse from an anonymous user on the internet, and 25% thought they themselves might be nastier if they were anonymous on the internet.
However, many also had seen anonymity being used for positive reasons. 53% of respondents said they had seen online anonymity being used for good reasons, including for seeking help and advice about potentially embarrassing, sensitive or taboo subjects; saying compliments that you might feel embarrassed to say otherwise; for protecting privacy; for speaking your mind without being judged or facing a backlash; as well as criticising governments, corporates or speaking about controversial subjects.
On balance, the majority felt that it is important that we allow people to be anonymous if they want. 86% said it was important that people are allowed to be anonymous online.
Watch the full workshop on YouTube