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Online anonymity “damaging and getting easier” in NWT

A Yellowknife business owner who specializes in social media admits to staying far away from anonymous confessions pages because of the damage they can cause.

Kyle Thomas operates With Media in Yellowknife, a digital marketing service geared towards smaller businesses and organizations in town.

He told Moose FM he’s been watching the controversy stirred by anonymous NWT confessions pages on Facebook in recent days.

Just last week, residents in Hay River voiced concerns over a page called Hay River Confessions, which allowed users to post secrets under the cloak of anonymity. That page was briefly shut down, but has since reappeared.

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Since going live two months ago, the page quickly became a breeding ground for derogatory material, including threats of rape.

See: Yellowknife Confessions On Facebook 

While Thomas concedes that not all anonymous confessions pages open the door to derogatory posting, many of them end up going down that path.

Thomas says comments of that nature are especially disturbing in smaller communities like Yellowknife and Hay River.

“When that six degrees of separation in a small town is amplified to two, three or four, something like this can be quite damaging.

“More likely than not, you’ll be able to read a comment and have a good idea of who it’s supposed to be targeted at and then all of a sudden you have a perception of that person and you don’t know if it’s real or not but it’s out there.”

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Thomas says Facebook isn’t the only home for anonymous online messaging. He believes other apps, such as Yik Yak, could offer even more problems in the future.

Yik Yak is an anonymous mobile application that allows people to create and view “Yaks” within a 10-mile radius.

See: NWT Confessions On Facebook 

Thomas says it differs from other anonymous sharing apps in that it’s intended for sharing primarily with those in close proximity to the user.

“In a place like Yellowknife or Hay River, this becomes very easy for anyone to make any type of comment, negative or positive, about anyone else or establishments within these communities”

The application has become popular among students in southern Canada and Thomas says it’s only a matter of time before it makes its way north.

Thomas says everyone has a responsibility to monitor what information they make public.

“We should all think before we post anything online. I think that’s a given but sometimes it’s one of those things where we don’t think before we speak.

“Once it’s out there, it’s out there and someone can take a screenshot and then it’s out there forever.”

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