A Pew Research study found 25 percent of people admit to posting anonymous comments online. A communications professor at the University of Houston studying the issue found anonymity contributes to less civil discourse. He looked at online comments in newspapers for more than a year and half and found 53 percent of comments were uncivil in papers that allowed anonymity. That percentage dropped to 29 percent when newspapers required names or links to Facebook accounts.
“I think people are also much more inclined to comment about something if they have a complaint. Sometimes it’s the only way you feel that you can be heard, so it winds up feeling like online comment sections are filled with negativity,” said Shayla Thiel-Stern, a professor of new media and culture at the University of Minnesota.
Though she says it’s hard to study, Thiel-Stern believes anonymous online posters are generally a small group with a loud voice.
“We just don’t know,” she said.