INCOGNITO Collective

INCOGNITO seeks to dispatch the content of anonymous media profiles as an acknowledgment of online integrity, personal vindication, and misinformed data.

As an investigation on the motivations to be and the continuity of anonymous presences on the internet, I created an agency, INCOGNITO Collective, and a public search for five anonymous profiles, stemming from any digital platform, to promote on social media. The concept of anonymity perplexing because it “lifts inhibitions and can lead to unusual acts of kindness or generosity” but it can also “lead to misbehavior, such as harsh or rude language and acts that are illegal or harmful,” [1] and while most anonymous profiles only reach a small-numbered audience, the psychological impacts of these social interactions is worth expanding on to digital communities as a reflection of our desires to live virtually. Thus, INCOGNITO Collective needed a legitimate authority as well as a neutral stance on digital issues so that all sides of anonymity could be extracted and shared to a larger audience.

To obtain this air, I created a website, email address, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram using the same color palette, posts, and statements and all performed on in an Incognito Chrome window. (website link with social media links on it: https://incognitocollectiv.wixsite.com/anonymous). This image shows the first post and formal call for profile submissions. The categories of anonymous creator, predator, browser, player, and hacker derived from my research to open the range of what anonymity means to different people in different places on the web.

The outreach phase of this scheme, however, was limited in its exposure. The most successful use of media was on Instagram, where the greatest following and participation was reached. Despite the small-scale support, I did not receive an email or direct recommendation for an anonymous profile to communicate with and promote.

So, the next step was to directly reach out to anonymous accounts or draw attention to my “brand” by tweeting and direct messaging other users.

After a period of more silence, I decided to join the anonymous leagues, posting my formal search post on notoriously anonymous websites like 4chan and Reddit. I got blocked on 4chan and I was basically invisible on Reddit.

While I never interacted actively with a potential anonymous profile, I do not see this project or my open call for anonymous profiles to close. I did continue to post with some existing famous and abstract examples of anonymous profiles to provide a better idea of what INCOGNITO Collective is looking for with my anonymous creator being Satoshi Nakamoto, the fantasized creator of Bitcoin, my anonymous hacker being Anonymous, the hacktivist group seeking to promote social justice on the web, and my anonymous browser being the US government, as they obscurely track and monitor our every digital move without our identification or acknowledgment of their presence.

And as I continue to wait for the acquaintance of a brave anonymous profile to come forward, my consensus of anonymous communities for now is that even with all the effort to glorify them, anonymous accounts like to remain introverted. There is a safety in the ambiguity of anonymity, and though users are protected by this shield, exposing one’s persona or alter ego is still a very odd and very frightening action. My personal consequence from this project became the obsessive activity of checking and following and stalking the vaguest entities, and I felt uneasy, contained, and constantly watched as I researched these accounts and the extent to which anonymity in the virtual space can be very very real.

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