THE BLOG

The Rise of Anonymous and the Darker Side of Social

17/11/2014 15:19 GMT | Updated 17/01/2015 10:59 GMT

Ten years ago, so enthralled were we to the new novelty of social sharing, most of us didn't think twice about updating our news feeds, uploading photos or imputing personal details onto our social media profiles.

Today, social channels have cemented themselves as pivotal elements in our communications ecosystems, helping us to manage our busy lives and stay connected at all times, but our attitudes to sharing are beginning to change.

More and more, people are looking for platforms that allow them to share content in different ways, limiting the images, videos and content shared to certain groups or individuals, or the time that this content is viewable. So why the change in attitude and where might this new trend be headed?

The growing number of privacy scandals we've witnessed in the last couple of years, from the spying revelations of PRISM, to Facebook's infamous Mood Experiment earlier this year, have of course left a lasting impression on attitudes.

We're becoming increasingly aware of the fact our data is no longer our own and everyone, from brands and politicians, to scientists and the CIA, want to access our valuable personal details. These concerns will not go away and the privacy of communications will continue to dominate how social media evolves. However I believe it is privacy of a different sort that drives this change in attitude.

Much of what we want to share we don't, because of the increasingly public nature of social platforms. What college kids were willing to share on Facebook, when it was only college kids on it is one thing. Sharing content on Facebook when your Gran is on it is another. As a result, people will continue to migrate to using social channels that give them greater control over their content and who can view it.

Snapchat, Kik and other new platforms have become increasingly popular with teens and students, at the growing expense of Facebook and in 2015 this will increasingly spread to other demographics including post education young professionals.

Facebook will continue its attempt to slow the speed of migration to rival networks by promoting its own 'private' app, Rooms, but with trust in the platform still low following privacy revelations whether this will succeed is no foregone conclusion.

Secret, another rising star in the social media universe, however will definitely go mainstream internationally in 2015 as people experiment more and more with anonymous sharing. Its unique approach to social networking, posting messages anonymously to your circle of friends, and the friends of friends, will continue to intrigue. We want to share, but it's not just privacy settings that matter, sometimes we want to share what we never want to own up to. Ever. The darker side of sharing may well dominate 2015. Sexting on Snapchat is really just the tip of the iceberg.

And for brands, as eager as ever to connect on our social profiles, amidst this new fervour for social anonymity, incorporating advertising designed to generate shareable/ephemeral content will be essential. Brands that are able to be daring, to push the boundaries of experimentation will win out.

For anyone who thinks the current trend for anonymous social is just another fad destined to fade away, you may be in for a surprise. The rise of anonymous networks will prove just how important privacy is in an open social world. Our most private thoughts, our most embarrassing urges, the things we might previously never have owned up to in public or private can now be shared, viewed and commented on by hundreds. Social media has a darker side and it is becoming wildly popular.