Anonymity and Pseudonymity: Free Speech's Problem Children

Peter Coe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through comparative analysis of United States, English, German and European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence, this article considers the viability of relying exclusively on either speaker or audience interests to underpin a free speech right within the context of anonymous and pseudonymous social media and online speech. It argues that this approach, which has hitherto been applied in these jurisdictions, can lead to a ‘double-edged sword’: on the one side, pursuant to audience interests, people may be dissuaded from participating in the exchange of information and ideas, because their anonymity or pseudonymity is not protected; on the other side, a constitutionally protected right to free speech based entirely on speaker interests could inadvertently protect unwanted and damaging speech.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedia and Arts Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright: LexisNexis.


  • Free speech, anonymous and pseudonymous expression, social media


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