Hiding Your Real Identity when Participating in Social Media – Good or Bad?

Should a Real Name be Required when Participating in Social Media?

This question has been floating out there for a while, but I just wanted to get it in circulation again. Frankly, I believe that if you are not willing to reveal who you really are when participating in social networks, forums, and other social media, then you shouldn’t have a voice.

Trusting Anonymous Sources
In the real world, we are responsible for our actions. We’re liable for what we say and do. Why should it be any different online?

Why should we be able to go around representing ourselves as someone else, or hiding behind artificial usernames or anonymity? People who do this in the real world are usually doing so for a few reasons:

1 – They’re hiding from someone
2 – They are criminals
3 – They are spammers

A-List blogger, Jeremy Schoemaker recently published an article posing essentially the same question, Is Anonymity Good For The Internets? In looking through the comments, I noted something interesting . . . most of those who were fervently in favor of anonymity were posting using keywords as their name instead of posting as themselves.

What does that tell you?

99% of the time when someone creates an anonymous or fake account on our BiggerPockets.com Real Estate Community, these people are there to do one of the above. Most are spammers, but there are several who are there to misrepresent the truth (lie), and many who are there to scam others. We also will not allow anonymous commenters, and I’ve now implemented the same policy on this blog as well. If you can’t represent yourself, you’re not wanted.

What do you think? Should people be allowed to remain anonymous online?

25 thoughts on “Hiding Your Real Identity when Participating in Social Media – Good or Bad?”

  1. You raise a good point in this post. I am always wary about following people on Twitter that use fake names. Like you say most of the time tey are scammers or spammers. Social media is all about making real connections and if you can not even display who you are how can you have a real relationship with someone.

  2. You tell me. Am I real or not? ;)

    I do business under several identities and have never had a problem. It’s like having a knick-name. One personification does this business, the other, that business.

    People do it all the time and you never even know it.

  3. @Dan – Thank you

    @Jordan – Not sure. Io may not know it, but I’ll take someone at their word on their name, provided it isn’t something like GardenTips or Golf Clubs.

    @Mike – Having accounts on different social networks is fine, but impersonating others isn’t. Posting for SEO purposes isn’t either. Many online are already policing their own communities to disallow anonymity, and that is a step in the right direction.

  4. I see your point, because if people use their real names, then there is more of a sense of community, but then you don’t know what weirdos are out there using your name for wrong things.

    I think it’s up to the person at the end of the day, especially with something as public as blogging :)

  5. In social networking sometime people are not really ready to provide there real identity due to various problems they can get into. Internet is free media and people use fake ids all the time to save there real identity.

  6. To all those people posting comments using keywords, your posts are gone now. Please have the courtesy of posting with your name real name.

    For those of you worried about ID theft or other issues, are the odds any better that you’ll get your ID stolen B/C you’re posting online using your name? No.

  7. I see absolutely no problem with being anonymous. The reader has a choice of whether or not to believe them. Furthermore, the writer knows they’re less likely to be believed. You should never be required to reveal your identity if you don’t wish to. That tradeoff is that many people won’t trust you and you need to accept that, but it shouldn’t be forced.

    This actually reminds me of a story arc Marvel comics ran recently where superheros were forced by the government to register their identities. Not registering can be seen as a shady act, but many of the heroes had their own reasons to not register (protecting families, believing it’s a personal freedom, ect.)

  8. Nice post,

    In my opinion, many people hides their real name while establishing online identity.

    It is so because, if you do something wrong or anything conflict occurs then you should able to answer.

    But, for long run, your personal branding matters most to you. So, it is better to reveal your real identity.

  9. Its better to have a separate accounts or identities depends on your motives. But keeping them updated is very hard. Im actually starting a business in the philippines and i told my employees to create another account for the social media that we may logged into.

  10. I think there is no problem of using pseudo names on internet. i believe there’s a certain reason why someone is doing so. but the judgment should not be on the fake personality or whatever it’s named, but on the genuine purpose. if s/he spams that’s bad, and should go to hell. if telling something good or informative that i think s/he should go to heaven.

  11. I don’t think that giving you’re real name will help you a lot in blogging. Because for as long as you’re blogs are informative and correct then that will make sense right?

  12. I don’t see anything wrong with posting anonymously. The thing is, unless someone is part of the community where the post happens, there’s no way to verify that their info is authentic.

    For example, my name may or may not be Josh (which it is). But, if it weren’t, there would be no way to verify that, you would be assuming that I’m not misleading you.

    In the end, if someone provides meaningful content, that should be enough. Judge them by their content, not their name.

  13. You make a good point about the issues of trust when using a pseudonym. I can see the concern.

    What frightens me more, however, is the thought of what it would take to ensure everyone is representing themselves accurately.

    In order to be positive that Jack’s real name is Jack, and Jill is really Jill, it would have to be regulated. And the more regulations we have, the less personal freedoms we have.

    I’ll take my chances with “Xbox87″ and “SmittenKitten05″ rather than surrender more information to some controlling entity. Maybe Xbox and Smitten are fine, maybe not, but I know I do not trust the large corporations or government that would step in to regulate.

    Events from the last decade bear this distrust out. Look at Enron, Martha Stewart, and bank after bank after bank, to name only a few…. They can’t be trusted with money or personal information, in my opinion.

  14. Thanks for your valuable information about social media. actually, in my opinion, that’s not necessary to use real name in social media. b/c seldom people pay attention to that but the content.

  15. I used to use my real identity online until somebody googled me and got my phone # and started calling me. I was able to lose him, but it worried me thinking about who will do the same next.

  16. Even if you don’t allow to be anonymous and you ask for names how can you be sure that people will give real information.Wrong names, fake email ids etc etc can be used.


  17. I also agree with Sourav. How can you be sure about the accuracy of the information. I think new technology can be used. Different websites can keep a track of the account holders activities on the web.If that account name is spamming others then he/she should be banned.


  18. Do you really think that all of us using their real identity, I don’t think so. For me, it’s just a way of securing an identity to avoid spammers, hackers, etc., So it’s OK to me to use a different username.

Please share your thoughts.