The Desire for Anonymity: A Study on Reddit User Behavior

15.02.2024

The EU General Data Protection Regulation grants individuals the "right to be forgotten," but do users truly care about what they leave behind on the Internet and whether it can be linked back to them? In a thought-provoking study by Joseph Reagle, he uncovered that even anonymous users delete their posts on social media if they contain sensitive content. Using content from Reddit, a platform known for its wide range of discussions from inspirational to inflammatory, Reagle delved into how these users handle their contributions.

"Roughly half of submissions are deleted by their users, most within the first day and week. Interviews with 30 Redditors reveal that their motives for deletion include ensuring the “Internet doesn’t see them,” especially those who might “see it on my Reddit profile,” deciding their issue was resolved, receiving unhelpful or aggressive comments, and concluding their submission was no longer relevant. Most interviewees were not overly concerned about deleted submissions persisting elsewhere (e.g., social media, archives, and datasets) as long as it is not easily connected to their other activity or identity."