Arindam Paul

Locally Anonymous Social Media

Anonymous online interactions allow users the freedom to explore identities and discuss taboo or private topics. However, identified interactions allow verification of others’ expertise and experience, as well as the building of social capital. One reason for the proliferation of modern social networking sites is that each offers a different take on users’ identifiability. Sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook encourage users to create profiles that are highly connected with their offline persona. In other cases, however, there is appeal in anonymity.

One example of this is the Facebook confession phenomenon, in which anonymous users submit confessions which are viewed and commented on by identified members of a university or school community. Another example is the site Tumblr, which allows easy switching of personae and the maintenance of multiple blogs. This project explores the appeal of novel configurations of anonymity and identifiability in social networking sites.


J.Birnholtz, N.A.R. Merola, and A. Paul. "Is it Weird to Still Be a Virgin?": Anonymous, Locally Targeted Questions on Facebook Confession Boards. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2015.