Corporate communicators are in the business of knowing their audience.
Any good communicator assumes the value of, and constant need for, robust demographic data. Such data are overwhelmingly and readily available on the Internet, beginning with users’ cookies and IP addresses.
At the same time, the culture of the Web also recognizes the value of anonymity. Some members of your electronic audience want to remain private, even if they also want to communicate. Almost inevitably, some participants in your discussions will want to protect their identities. As a 1993 New Yorker cartoon reminds us, anonymity is inherent in the electronic media because “on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
Some recent cases also suggest that courts will provide significant protections to such anonymity. Those recent developments offer an outline of what types of dangers communicators should avoid.