Online confessions: the veneer of anonymity

We are all concerned, or at least we are told we ought to be, with the preservation of our online privacy and confidential information to be contrasted with a pervasive social need to confess intimate or embarrassing details about ourselves. The internet as confessional is perhaps a wholly new spiritual approach to how we treat online communities and raises important legal issues for website users and hosts. In fact, online anonymity may be a commodity that sites have begun offering as a means of capitalising on the desire to reveal all.

Secret websites, it is claimed, allow individuals to interact with total anonymity, safe in the knowledge that their online audacity is matched by equal amounts of online privacy. One such website is Whisper, an online confessional where users can post revelations that they wouldn’t post on a personal digital platform.

For example, under Whisper’s faith category one user writes: ‘I prostitute myself to help pay my rent. Nobody would ever know cause [sic] people think I’m the perfect Christian boy.’ …

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