Assessment 3 · Uncategorized

Online identity: Real-name or anonymous?

Tiantian Chen, Kai Tuesday 5 pm

What is online identity?

Online identity is a social identity that an Internet user establishes in online communities and websites. Through the popularity of web2.0, people are provided a space to make things, share things, communicate and connect with each other (Hinton, S. & Hjorth, 2013). Thanks to a variety of easy-to-use social communication platforms, people could create different online identities, which depends on use’s relationship in a social group or an online community.

Online identity could be totally different from ‘real-life’ identity, which could offer people a virtual world and a space to release themselves. In the reading “The construction of self”, Harter (1988) claims that a person exhibits different identities in different situations. People could choose to hide their real names, expressing their ideas online without too much limitation and consideration. Different online identities encourage people selectively to show their partial identity and interact with each other with virtual identity. For instance, one person may behave very friendly with family or friends, but behave rude and aggressive online. Here, the person’s identity is reflected as being kind in one situation and arrogant in another situation, according to Hee-Woong (2011).

图片 1

People’s lives have been greatly improved due to the internet, but at the same time, “on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog”, which reflects the anonymous of the network. Social problems, such as cybercrime, Internet violence, and other issues have gradually become harmful to the whole society. Especially for teenagers, it has negative influences on young people.


Virtual network society with its great degree of freedom to promote the online information to exchange and share information, but also allow people to be deceptive about their identity. It is reported that a man was married to another woman online and lived a virtual life with a child.

To address this concern, the network real name system has been raised, but it has been controversial because it involves freedom of speech and privacy.

What is real name system?

The meaning of the network real name system has not yet formed a unified view. Generally, network real name system, as the name implies, is the system that must use real identity to apply for a network account, net citizens have to pass authentication before speaking online or participate other net activities, such as the use of e-mail, upload photos, participate in online games. We no longer use anonymous or pseudonyms to discuss with others online, but use the real name, real identity, real information, which means the online identity of uses should be kept consistent with their real-life identity. In that way, people could quickly understand the author’s background information and other information.

Network Real-name System in China

Although China is the second country to implement the network real name system, China is the source of the network real name system. End by 2016, the number of Internet users in China was more than 700 million, located in the world’s second.With the development of the internet in China, the real-name system seems to be more essential.


Professor Li Xiguang, a professor of Tsinghua University, made a proposal—the NPC should prohibit anyone from being anonymous online. This is the landmark event of an implement of the real-name system in China. He believes that the network should also be strictly protected by copyright and intellectual property, “at the same time online to write things to bear legal responsibility.” “Including traditional media, should promote the use of real names, do not have a pen name published articles. Be responsible for.”

Actually, network real name system is not a sudden product, many years ago, the Chinese government has already started a series of real-name measures for the implementation of the network. On May 13, 2004, China Internet Association released the “Internet E-mail Service Standard”, for the first time filed a real-name system and stressed that e-mail service providers should request customers to submit real customer information. The information will be used to determine the mailbox service the standard of attribution. After that, in order to lay the foundation of the implementation of real-name system in online games, the Ministry of Education promulgated the Opinions on Further Strengthening the Management of Campus Network in Colleges and Universities in 2004 and made it clear that the real name system was implemented in the university education network. August 2007, “Blog Service Self-discipline Convention” to encourage blog real-name system.

It can be seen from the network real-name system development process, its strong implementation still encountered a lot of obstacles in China. Although there has been considerable development compared to the beginning, there still are many supports and oppositions. These disputes reflect the impact of the network real name system on the entire Internet and people’s lives.

Real name system is better than anonymous?

From the perspective of network environment, the real-name system prompt to build a harmonious network of society. It is reasonable to conclude that implementation of the network real name system could make it possible to strengthen the network management. Using real name system could be helpful to reduce the content of violence and vulgarity, increase the real, scientific and responsible content so that the network could truly become a healthy information dissemination and enrich the way people entertaining. The internet would be regarded as leisure tools, and ultimately achieve the goal of purifying the network environment. In this way, many adverse impacts on teenagers could be solved such as curbing Internet addiction. As Ming-Shian (2016) said, using official name could Improve the accuracy of personal information and it is convenient to connect with friends and acquaintances, which means the link between people will be more convenient and safe.


Real name system seems to prevent effectively anonymous network crime, such as spreading rumors, create panic on the Internet and malicious infringement of others. Once the network real name system has been implemented, the identity information of Internet criminals could be quickly tracked by the network police.

Furthermore, the greatest significance of internet real name system is forcing people to be responsible for their own words.

Considering this system, people would be more careful about the consequence of online discussing and we would have a sense of social responsibility. When people are writing reviews of books or movies, providing comments on some social platforms (Yelp, Tripadvisor, Quora), they would be more cautious. It is also helpful to reduce the pornographic resources on the network. Implement of real name system also has strong deterrent effects on those who maliciously and deliberately spam or spread rumors, which could create a harmonious and healthy network environment.

Real name system is worse than anonymous?

However, those who reject the real name system oppose it for two aspects.

Anat (2013) argues that there is a real contradiction between online security and civil rights. Real name system causes damage to protection of citizen’s private information. This private information and personal data may be easily used by government agencies or business organizations, even lawbreakers. Personal information is not only a business resource but also a tool for criminals, which may lead to serious damages to the legitimate rights of citizens.

Secondly, real name system is detrimental to freedom of expression. Internet users actively participate in the discussion of social hot issues, the analysis of the problem is more in-depth, insights are more unique. Citizen’s opinion could have profound influences on government’s decision,but these are achieved because of the protection of the anonymity. If we use real name system, more people would choose to keep silent, because they worried about being retaliated. According to the investigation, about 80 percent of Internet users said they do not agree with enacting real name system.


With the prevalence of internet, social communication has become an Indispensable part of people’s live. There is a trend that individuals who have different online identities, playing various roles according to social relationship.

Satchell, Shanks, Howard, and Murphy (2006) assert that online identity is the key to how people are able to communicate and interact with others electronically.

Implement of real name system online is believed to be necessary to improve the online environment, despite it has some drawbacks. Signing up community sites with real name will form a virtual reputation, the user’s identity and virtual reputation would be linked together, the interpersonal interaction would become more real.


Aleks Krotoski. (2012). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? The guardian.

Biletzki, A. (2013). Online Security: What’s in a Name? Philos. Technol. 26: 397. doi:10.1007/s13347-013-0129-4

Harter, S. (1998). The construction of self. New York: Guilford.

Hinton, S., Hjorth L. (2013). Understanding Social Media. London, England: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Satchell, C., Shanks, G., Howard, S., & Murphy, J. (2006). Knowing me, knowing you: End user perceptions of identity management systems. In European Conference on Information Systems. Göteborg, Sweden

Wu, M. (2016). Why Taiwanese people do not comply with Facebook’s real name policy. Social Behavior and Personality, 44(8), 1371-1378.

Hee-Woong, K. (2011). Examining knowledge contribution from the perspective of an online identity in blogging communities. Computers in Human Behavior.1671-1770


2 thoughts on “Online identity: Real-name or anonymous?

  1. This article is very interesting, discusses a hot spot topic in the current social media, on the use of real names in online social networking. The author uses a very rich theoretical framework, and take the Chinese social network as an example to help the readers to understand, and discussed the phenomenon in the controversial issue.

    In this article, the most attractive part for me is on the network of social identity and reality are different. And this is also the core concept on this topic, with the current network planning is getting serious, the network real name system requirement is getting common. But it will bring a series of problems.

    It is good to see that the author considers the controversial issue, the protection of users’ privacy issues. It is worth mentioning that the author carried out a deep discussion on this topic, and with a lot of interesting pictures and examples to prove that the article read very interesting and vivid.

    However, there is a suggestion that due to the Chinese and foreign network real name system is different, for example China’s microblogging and Facebook, if the author can compare the difference between the two, the article may be more substantial.


  2. Distinctly, it is an interesting and controversial topic. It is actually a dilemma between “real name” and “anonymous” on the Internet. The author considered two sides of the issue, and made the China as the example to critically discuss. I strongly agree with the author’s opinion that “real name” will be more helpful to manage the Internet to decreasing cyberbully, to prevent cybercrime, and to make users take their responsibilities for their expression online.

    However, you know, here China is a special example. Actually, in China, there is no freedom of speech on the Internet. Due to the control of the Chinese government, the expression of people on the Internet generally need be censored and supervised. So, I do not think that China implement the “real name” on the Internet will destroy the freedom of expression. But, in western country, it is opposite to human right, and it will destroy the freedom of expression.

    So, actually, I think whether implement “real name” or not in China that does not need too much controversy. No matter whether the Internet “real-name”, China is less possible to have totally freedom of expression online. But, one point we must know, to “real-name”, distinctly, will provide young people a safer and healthier online context.


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