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HONR 399/ILS 395: #Anonymous: An Identity Politics of the Internet


Instructor ILS 59500: GIS for Humanities and Social Science Research
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HONR 399/ILS 395: #Anonymous: An Identity Politics of the Internet

Semester TBD

Instructor: Dr. Matthew Hannah

*Open to all students. H credit possible.*

Despite debates about “identity politics,” we have not fully grappled with one of the most common and ubiquitous identities prevalent on the Internet today: anonymity. In this course, we will discuss the role anonymity has played in our experience of media environments in the twenty-first century, and we will study the effects and politics of remaining anonymous, undiscoverable, secret, or hidden online. In some instances, anonymity is a security measure to protect personal or financial identities from hackers. In other cases, anonymity is weaponized by trolls or hacktivists to harass or attack others without repercussion. From QAnon to Anonymous, from Twitter to Wikileaks, anonymity has become one of the most commonplace online identities. And then there are a number of situations where the right to be anonymous is more nuanced. For example, how do we as a society handle “doxxing,” the online exposure of personal information as a form of social justice? Should we be exposing racists, for example, to outraged Twitter mobs? What role does social media play in encouraging mob behavior? In exposing and punishing wrongdoing? We will look at high-profile examples of anonymity as an online identity, and we will contextualize such case studies within philosophical readings about identity, performance, race and gender, and media.