False Identities Online
Does anybody else use false identities online? Or false information?
My wife thinks I’m paranoid because I purposely obfuscate online information about me. I use false names, false email accounts and false telephone numbers or dates of birth. Recently, I had friends calling me to wish me Happy Birthday even though it wasn’t my birthday just because on Facebook I registered my date of birth a few weeks away from my real date of birth.
Ultimately, if people want to capture accurate information for marketing purposes then I tend to make it up. I’ve registered so many accounts online with a zipcode of 90210 that I must have personally inflated the population of Beverly Hills by a factor of two. If somebody really needs to know my address I’ll give it to them, the same with my number but most people only ask for it for marketing purposes or parade the optional elements are required elements. In those cases, I lie.
Think of a city anywhere in the world. Google it and you’ll find a business that has their address listed on their web page. All you then need to do is copy the address and enter it online. You can then easily pretend you live in that city and have matching postal codes and telephone numbers. Sometimes changing the odd digit in a phone number is enough to stop the real business being plagued with spam calls.
I also find it a challenge to break online data capture forms. For example, if you require a telephone number will NULL get me through? How about 1? OK, I’ll have to use the Hollywood number then, i.e. +1 212 555 1234 (any number with 555 in it works as they all go nowhere). Sometimes I’ll even put in my real area code, +1 604 555 7890. At least you know I’m in the area … or am I. 😉 Was it really important to capture my number when I’m only downloading a white paper? If I like the product, I’ll call you, don’t try to trick me into giving up my information.
Sometimes Google already knows too much about you so it’s not good to use your name. For example, when I call up a competitor or report somebody for copyright infringement I’d prefer not to use my real name. So I just make one up, open a new Hotmail account to match my new identity and sometimes even buy a domain and post a one page website to add further credibility. The more you want to know about me, the more I’m going to lie. I don’t like my real world identities and online identities mixing. I’ve met too many scary people online, too many that would like to hurt me or my family, or just don’t want to fight with another angst-ridden 15yo that thinks the Internet is anonymous and they can do whatever they like.
Disposable identities are the future.