How to Create Anonymous Personas on Social Media
Disclaimer: What to Understand Before creating an Anonymous Profile
Please be aware of the policies on the social media sites you may want to create an anonymous profile on. Most sites disallow duplicate profiles or profiles that do not reflect accurate information about the user. Profiles often get removed, suspended, or even banned, including the "real" profile if the anonymous profiles are being used in an inappropriate manner.
This is not an article about how to create troll accounts, as sometimes there are legitimate reasons, one would need to make an alternate profile. Someone who may be hiding from an abusive relationship or avoiding harassment may be a legitimate reason to make an alternate profile.
Side note to readers: You may be able to avoid removal from a site if this is your only account, rather then a secondary account. Something to consider.
Active Versus Passive Accounts
One thing to consider before making the anonymous profile is that one needs to know whether they want to be able to participate actively on the social media site or use it as an observer. This is all dependent on the reasons you made the account in the first place. For example, if you made the profile to hide from someone or someones, you would most likely want to have the passive account rather then an active one, to pass under the radar.
On the other hand, you may want to be active on friend's and families accounts, but you may want to avoid attention from certain people. Or perhaps you enjoy what a social media site offers and you like to participate in it, but you want to avoid people in real life while doing so. For example, maybe you are interested in the occult, but your family may be very religious, and you don't want to cause issues unnecessarily by signing in under your own identity on these sites.
Create the Anonymous Profile
This will be broken up into steps for someone needing a walk-through on how to create the persona.
Screen Names / Sign In
Some social media requires you to use an email to sign in, in addition to a unique screen name. The first step is to create a generic email address specifically for this profile. You will almost certainly only be emailed by the site with spam if not opted out of those notifications, or if you have been reported, so using the address will really be unnecessary.
Create a generic screen name, rather then a unique one that reflects your personality will also help in keeping this profile under the radar. For sites that require a first and last name to be on display, use real names but common ones like Jane Anderson, or Joe Miller. Don't use Smith as the last name because that is too generic and will most likely be noticed by the more savvy observer. As for the screen name, same rules apply. Names you would find a long list of similar names if searched. For example, on a site directed to mothers, one may want to use the word mom or mama with the addition of random numbers. Do not choose numbers that may be special to you like your birth date. Or a site about athletics, one may want to use the screen names associated with the topic like muscles123. Common words associated with the themes the site you want to create the account on is something to be mindful of.
Almost all sites require a photo. However, most sites do not require the photo to be of yourself. You may even notice on open and legitimate profiles; many people use random photos instead of their own to represent something they like or believe in. Avoid using another person's face. It is easy enough to do a reverse image reversal search on Google. Also avoid using images that reflect your personality and is well known to be something you like, like a cartoon character you love. Using a silly meme or maybe something that seems popular on social media at the time, like the rainbow flag was popular a few years ago when marriage for gay couples became legal. The key is to blend in, not stand out.
Most sites have areas where personal information can be put, sometimes required for you to move forward onto participating on the site. If possible, set the profiles to as private as you can make them. Even with this, there is some backdoor someone well versed in hacking can find out the hidden information fairly easily. Keep as many of the sections blank as you can. If it requires you to fill out the state you live in, choose a different one across the country. or a nearby country like Canada for Americans. It is not required to discuss any private information on these sites, so if someone asks, ignore them.
Participation on the Site
Choosing to have the passive account, there is really only one rule to follow. Don't tell anyone about it. The more people who know, the more likely it is that someone will tell the wrong person. If that happens, then having the anonymous profile is moot and either you have to create a new one, or stay off those sites completely to avoid the people you are wanting to hide from.
If you chose to have a passive account, you can skip this part. This will be mainly for those who want to have an active persona. If you chose to have an active profile, and want to avoid being noticed by the wrong people, it is important to keep in mind certain things that may give you away.
Make sure not to respond to posts with personal information that may give you away. For example, "Remember when we went to the party last Friday?" This could very well give you away to those who know you were with the person you were replying to. If you want to participate in discussions or forums on these sites, avoid giving out personal information, or if you do nothing that is anything special that would identify you. Such as having dogs as pets. the more information you share the more likely it is someone may be able to identify you.
I recommend avoiding making up a story of a fake person because lying about who you are will catch up eventually. You may not be able to keep your story straight or remember what you have shared.
In conclusion, this is the basics of having an anonymous persona online. It is very useful in staying connected while in a situation where you may not have to option of showing your true self. I hope this gives some the opportunity to feel more comfortable online and on social media in the case of avoiding harassment and unacceptable behaviors being directed towards you.
If you feel your life is at risk, the best option is to not have social media during this time. It is not worth the risk of being found out.
© 2018 Tara Cochran