There are many individuals who feel as though “anonymous” immediately deserves a negative connotation.
The influential writer H.P. Lovecraft once famously said, “The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
However, there are many instances where anonymity actually has a positive effect on society.
Consider the anonymous donor, who might want to support a cause, but feels no need to take advantage of the optics of their charity, nor do they wish their identity would overwhelm the cause or plight of the recipient.
In fact, there are studies suggesting that the largest donors, which help to drive the entire philanthropy sector, often give anonymously in order to comply with social norms.
Another example is the anonymous tip, which has helped law enforcement solve crimes of all kinds.
These are clear examples where anonymity is not something to be feared, but clearly provides a benefit to society as a whole.
The anonymous whistleblower has also offered all sorts of benefits to society, providing information about illegal activities such as price-fixing scandals or corruption within government agencies such as the FBI or CIA.
Whistleblowers have even found their way to embed themselves forever in the public consciousness.
For example, Frank Serpico, a NYPD officer-turned-whistleblower who exposed corruption in the department, was forever immortalized by Al Pacino in the classic 1973 film Serpico.
There has also been a recent trend of whistleblowers with regards to global surveillance, the most famous of which is easily Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who exposed how the National Security Agency (NSA) has an infrastructure of global surveillance already in place.
Many consider him the most significant whistleblower in recent history.
WikiLeaks Remains an Active Channel for Whistleblowers
This begs the question—why aren’t whistleblowers turning to the dark web? After all, it is already home to the anonymous.
Well, it is certainly used on some level, and the most well known example is WikiLeaks.
The international nonprofit organization has undoubtedly altered history forever, but some wonder whether it is relevant today.
Julian Assange, the figurehead for WikiLeaks, has even recently been replaced as editor-in-chief of the organization, as well.
This is somewhat understandable, given the fact that he has become a global controversial figure who is simultaneously praised as a hero while many consider him a criminal who should be put to death.
Overall, WikiLeaks is still active, and even recently leaked documents providing information about the location of Amazon’s data centers.
This is certainly significant given the fact that Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, recently reaching a trillion dollar market capitalization, and is notoriously secretive about the locations of their data centers.
Amazon’s CEO, is Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, with a net worth of over $140 billion.
There might be an ironic distrust of the dark web as reliable, even despite the fact that it is anonymous.
While there are undoubtedly whistleblowers that might be comfortable with WikiLeaks, given their track record of leaks—it is understandable that some might not be comfortable with leaking information to the dark web on a random forum, for example.
Questions of Credibility to Consider
There is also another interesting point to make about credibility. There unfortunately is a stigma regarding the dark web.
For example, a whistleblower could easily contact a media company and go through the appropriate channels to provide a story. This also would lead to more exposure.
If they were uncomfortable with this route, they could even comment as an anonymous Reddit and Quora user.
The story could get traction this way, as other users would naturally upvote the post, and other employees could potentially corroborate the story.
There is an idea that ultimately, no matter what, the anonymity barrier has to be overcome.
For example, in traditional media, at some point, a source has to go “on the record,” and that certainly isn’t possible when it comes to random posts on the dark web.
Public Perception of the Dark Web a Factor
It might be that the dark web is simply too “dark” in perception, and there are other avenues for whistleblowers to take that are more transparent, legitimate and could reach more people.
While the dark web will undoubtedly always be a tool to whistleblowers, it will be interesting to see how whistleblowers decide to utilize it in the future.
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