Maintaining Privacy With An Alter Ego

Posted on: March 15th, 2013 by Pernille No Comments

Use your real name, when you are professional, eg on Twitter and LinkedIn. And fake it on service who ask for your very private data (e.g. sexual orientation) like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

By Pernille Tranberg

Ruth Carter from Carter Law Firm attended our session at South By Southwest last Sunday. She wrote a blog post about it, where she write that she likes the idea of maintaining privacy with an alter ego, and she raised one interesting question:

“Now, does using a fake name violate the terms of service of social media sites that require you to use your real name or have a policy against one person having multiple accounts?”

Yes, she says, and adds: But if no one reports you, how will they ever know?

Of course she is right, because when you sign up to with Facebook you also sign up to their Terms of Service (TOS). But what do you risk? That they close your account down. That is by far the worst risk, I believe. I don’t believe they will sue you, but you never know.

So why don’t you just NOT sign up to FB, some would argue. Facebook is a private company and has a right to have its own rules.

My answer: Facebook has been such a huge success that so many people have adopted the service. Many municipalities and public services are using it, and I would claim that it is pretty impossible to take active part in society today without a Facebook profile, at least in Denmark where people obviously love the service.

Privacy is a human right. In the analogue world, we can claim the right to be anonymous, so I believe that FB is actually violating our right to privacy by maintaining a real-name policy.