An anonymous chat room is an online chat area that allows users to log in using screen names which let users conceal their identities from others who are also participating in the chat, or even hackers who may illegally access the chat room itself. Rooms of this type may be used in a variety of scenarios and are often favored by organizations that seek to help people with various types of addictions, health issues and other situations in which users may be reluctant to share identities. The actual structure of an anonymous chat room will vary, based on the purposes for the room and the preferences of the room owner.
With an anonymous chat room, a user normally has the option of either entering the room using a system-generated screen name for the session, or choosing a name of his or her own creation. Details such as age, gender, email address, or location are not available for viewing by others who are visiting the virtual chat area. Depending on how the room is configured, an administrator may be able to view email addresses or some other information that is not available to the users. This is usually for security purposes in general, and allows managers to ban a specific Internet addresses if a user does not conduct himself or herself in compliance with the chat room rules.
It is not unusual for an anonymous chat room to serve as a place where users can share details about a specific situation they are dealing with, without any fears of others knowing their identities. For example, this type of chat room may be operated by a substance abuse rehabilitation facility, and provide a safe environment for people who are either currently in recovery or even those who suspect they may need help to converse freely without any concerns of being identified or marginalized because of their issues. While anonymous in nature, most rooms of this type will have one or more moderators who will monitor activity in the room and take appropriate action to protect users from abuse, spam messages posted in the room, and other issues common with chat room communication in general.
There is some debate regarding just how anonymous an anonymous chat room can actually be. Since privacy laws vary from one country to another, there are some instances in which tracking information that has to do with the computer used to access the rooms may be turned over to law enforcement officials if there is some suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of a user. From this perspective, joining an anonymous forum or chat room will typically mean that although other users do not have access to identifying information, the room manager or owner may in fact have some limited information that could be used to ultimately identify users if required to do so by law enforcement.