Survey Confirms: Most Trolls Would Shut Up If Forced To Use Their Real Identities

About 5% of people who comment online anonymously reported doing so to bully others.

Survey Confirms: Most Trolls Would Shut Up If Forced To Use Their Real Identities
[Image: Flickr user JD Hancock]

Take away a troll’s source of power–anonymity–and the online commenter will think twice before posting on a blog or forum.


A study released Wednesday by online commenting platform Livefyre finds 40% of respondents have commented anonymously. Surveying 1,300 people, the company found of those anonymous commenters:

  • 88% use real identities some of the time
  • 5% comment anonymously to bully others
  • 78% of people who comment anonymously won’t do so under their real identities

Unsurprisingly, Livefyre used this as an opportunity to show the benefits of anonymous comments–and plug features, such as comment moderation. For marketers, giving users the option to be incognito ultimately means more engagement. If they weren’t under the veil of anonymity, nearly 80% of these commenters would keep their opinions to themselves. In addition, Livefyre said there’s still value in anonymous remarks. Of respondents, 59% said they view anonymous comments equal to or more valuable than those from people with verified identities.

What the company recommends is for publishers to post their community guidelines prominently and to give users who add value to online discussions moderation responsibilities. Livefyre also encourages publishers to join the conversation, a subtle reminder to trolls they’re always listening.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.