Two of A.A.’s traditions address anonymity. The Eleventh Tradition states that our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films. The Twelfth Tradition says that Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Anonymity is often referred to as the greatest single protection the Fellowship has to assure its continued existence and growth. In stressing the equality of all A.A. members — and unity in the common bond of their recovery from alcoholism — anonymity serves as the spiritual foundation of A.A.
If we look at the history of A.A., from its beginning in 1935 until now, it is clear that anonymity serves two different yet equally vital functions:
Anonymity at the Personal level
- At the personal level, anonymity provides protection for all members from identification as alcoholics, a safeguard often of special importance to newcomers.
- As valuable as privacy is to new members, most of them are eager to share the good news of their A.A. affiliation with their families. Such a disclosure, however, is always their own choice.
Anonymity at the Public level
- At the level of press, radio, TV, films, and on the internet practicing anonymity stresses the equality of all A.A. members. Maintaining anonymity at this level puts the brakes on those who might otherwise exploit their A.A. affiliation to achieve recognition, power, or personal gain.
- When using social media and other online platforms, A.A. members are responsible for their own anonymity and that of others. When we break our anonymity in online forums, we may inadvertently break the anonymity of others. Protecting anonymity is a major consideration for A.A. members who are moving online in ever-growing numbers.
Read more in: Anonymity Online
Facts About Anonymity
It is the A.A. member’s responsibility, and not that of the media, to maintain our cherished Tradition of anonymity.
- A.A. members generally think it unwise to break the anonymity of the member even after the member’s death, but in each situation, the final decision must rest with the family. A.A. members, though, are in agreement that the anonymity of still living A.A. members should be respected in obituaries or in any type of printed remembrance or death notice.
- A.A. members may disclose their identity and speak as recovered alcoholics, giving radio, TV and online interviews, without violating the Traditions — so long as their A.A. membership is not revealed.
- A.A. members may speak publicly as A.A. members only if their full names or faces are not revealed. They speak as individual members, but not for A.A. as a whole.
Read the Anonymity Letter to the Media here