Social Number Delivers Anonymous Social Networking

Recently launched website Social Number provides social media users the ability to network anonymously by identifying themselves through a system generated number instead of their name. For example, a user would be given the id 0039601762 upon registration and have the ability to network with other numerically defined users through attributes such as their gender, age, location and interests. The Social Number platform gives users given carte blanche authority to recreate their real life profiles in whatever way they wish and the power to construct an anonymous, online persona that they can use to network and make status updates about topics of their choosing.

Use cases for the anonymous social media website include the following:

•Users who wish to make anonymous comments about celebrities, companies, governments and people
•Users who wish to network via a social identity that differs significantly from attributes of their identity that they have in person
•Users who wish to anonymously explore interests, activities and hobbies by networking with other people with the same interests
•Groups and organizations who wish to anonymously campaign for specific causes

The site represents an important moment for online free speech insofar as the web now has another prominent location where ideas about any topic can be freely exchanged without fears of recrimination. For example, activist groups and whistleblowers who might otherwise fear for their careers and well-being if they were to disclose personal information now have a platform from which to make sensitive disclosures online. Similarly, users with stigma-related health issues such as HIV or depression can now leverage Social Number to effectively network with users with similar conditions and concerns.

Social Number’s CEO M.K. remarked on the innovation of the anonymous social media platform as follows:

We are incredibly thrilled to be tackling and empowering our users to have a free voice, discussing issues that some might deem ‘untouchable’ in public forums. Hot button topics like politics and religion to discussing your boss to substance abuse are some of threads users are gravitating towards. But I believe there are many other topics that people want to discuss openly without the fear of repercussions. It’s about freedom of speech. Today, there is very little privacy on any social network, resulting in employees being fired and government interrogations for free thinking. On Social Number, your number is your only identity, showcasing the true value of anonymity.

High profile users of the site include a group associated with the hacktivist collective Anonymous that features the Anonymous group’s logo and slogan as follows:

The Anonymous group on Social Number contains 400+ members and over 40 discussion threads. Unsurprisingly, sex represents another frequently discussed topic in the site’s other well-populated groups. The site will preserve the anonymity of its users but will block “illegal or dangerous” activity per the company’s privacy policy as reported by GigaOm. Thus far, Social Number claims over 10,000 users dispersed in over 100 countries and five continents according to CEO M.K.


Sony PlayStation Network outage continues as a result of “external intrusion”

Sony PlayStation’s cloud computing network experienced significant downtime starting on April 21. The outage affected Sony’s PlayStation Network and its Qriocity music service. Sony PlayStation’s cloud based environment allows users to download and use online games, music, videos and movies. Patrick Seybold, Sony’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Social Media, announced that an “external intrusion” was responsible for the attack, generating suspicions that hackers were responsible for bringing down Sony’s cloud based gaming and music platform. The hacker group Anonymous was the principal suspect for the Sony outage after Sony initiated a lawsuit against George Hotz, a PlayStation user with the username GeoHot that jailbroke his PlayStation 3 and distributed jailbreaking tools to other users to download unauthorized applications. In early March, a Northern California court awarded Sony access to Hotz’s social media accounts, his PayPal account and the IP addresses of users who visited George Hotz’s website. The hacker collective Anonymous objected to Sony’s lawsuit against George Hotz, noting, “You have abused the judicial system in an attempt to censor information on how your products work. You have victimized your own customers merely for possessing and sharing information, and continue to target every person who seeks this information. In doing so, you have violated the privacy of thousands.” After Anonymous issued threats to Sony about their handling of the Hotz lawsuit, Sony experienced downtime on its main website, and the U.S. PlayStation site on April 6, in attacks that have been widely attributed to Anonymous.

But Anonymous denied responsibility for the recent outage by claiming, “For Once, We Didn’t Do It,” and that “While it could be the case that other Anons have acted by themselves, AnonOps was not related to this incident and does not take responsibility for whatever has happened. A more likely explanation is that Sony is taking advantage of Anonymous’ previous ill-will towards the company to distract users from the fact that the outage is actually an internal problem with the company’s servers.” Sony’s technical troubles follow high profile recent releases of Mortal Kombat and Portal 2. Considered alongside Amazon’s EC2 recent outage, Sony’s downtime raises increased concerns about quality of service and reliability in the world of cloud computing. Downtime on Sony’s PlayStation Network began on April 21 and continues as of the evening of April 24, 2011.