Journal of Applied Philosophy 36 (4):643-658 (2019)

Carissa Véliz
Oxford University
Anonymity promotes free speech by protecting the identity of people who might otherwise face negative consequences for expressing their ideas. Wrongdoers, however, often abuse this invisibility cloak. Defenders of anonymity online emphasise its value in advancing public debate and safeguarding political dissension. Critics emphasise the need for identifiability in order to achieve accountability for wrongdoers such as trolls. The problematic tension between anonymity and identifiability online lies in the desirability of having low costs (no repercussions) for desirable speech and high costs (appropriate repercussions) for undesirable speech. If we practice either full anonymity or identifiability, we end up having either low or high costs in all online contexts and for all kinds of speech. I argue that free speech is compatible with instituting costs in the form of repercussions and penalties for controversial and unacceptable speech. Costs can minimise the risks of anonymity by providing a reasonable degree of accountability. Pseudonymity is a tool that can help us regulate those costs while furthering free speech. This article argues that, in order to redesign the Internet to better serve free speech, we should shape much of it to resemble an online masquerade.
Keywords free speech  anonymity  pseudonyms  digital ethics  privacy  internet  pseudonimity  identifiability
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DOI 10.1111/japp.12342
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References found in this work BETA

A Theory of Freedom of Expression.Thomas Scanlon - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (2):204-226.
Anonymity.Kathleen A. Wallace - 1999 - Ethics and Information Technology 1 (1):21-31.
Ethical Issues in Journal Peer-Review.J. Angelo Corlett - 2005 - Journal of Academic Ethics 2 (4):355-366.
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Citations of this work BETA

Online Public Shaming: Virtues and Vices.Paul Billingham & Tom Parr - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (3):371-390.

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