It’s Not Just About Sex: Understanding the Experiences and Motivations of Twitter Alter Users in Metro Manila

Ruth Magdalene DC Castro, Shane Catherine G Lopez, Georgie Kate M Vinagrera, Regina P Yamada

Abstract


“Alter”, a community of anonymous Twitter users, is increasingly attracting an online audience in the Philippines; however, research regarding this community is scarce. This study aims to understand the experiences and motivations of Alter users for creating and maintaining their accounts. Semi-structured interviews are conducted on active Alter users (5 males, 4 females) and analyzed using thematic analysis through the interpretivist paradigm. This study establishes that anonymity is the central mechanism for Alter users to perform the two central themes of their experiences: motivations and issues. Results reflect that the motivations for participating in Alter are (1) disagreement with the dominant view of sex as taboo while (2) finding a sense of community perceived as an open space where people can freely express themselves and explore their sexuality and sexual desires, thereby promoting a positive outlook toward sex within the community. However, several issues arise from using anonymity for maintaining it. Finding this sense of belongingness on Alter shows that it is using anonymity for the wrong purposes: (1) identity as a currency within an exchange in order to fulfill each other’s desires, and (2) maladaptive use of anonymity, specifically exploiting anonymity in threatening other members of the community. This study suggest that cyber-social moral ethics bounds the freedom perceived in Alter.


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