Japanese were the early adopters of social media. Even before mixi started in 2004, Japanese were creating communities and finding the ways to network and socialize online. You’d think that they are very comfortable communicating with others online by now. Surprisingly, Japanese still want to stay anonymous online, according to the data published by Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. While 65-70% of people in other countries don’t have problem with using their own name to create a social media account, 75% of Japanese want to stay anonymous. This is one of the main reasons why Twitter grew rapidly, while Facebook slowly gained the traction in Japan. (I know that many Facebook users don’t use their real name. Japanese are honest people. If they hear you have to use real name, they think that’s the rule.)
This made me think about my experiences with Japanese social networking sites. I belong to several networking groups online, one of which I became a member back in 1996. The way of communication has changed from a community website to mailing list to mixi and other social networking sites, but many of the members has managed to stay connected. Over the years, many of us became good friends, and have met off-line, too. Interestingly, although we know some members’ real name, and even address, we still don’t show real name in the account profile. Why is that? I don’t think their security concern is due to other members.