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Fake social media accounts are usually associated with bot networks, but some research released Tuesday showed that many social media users are creating fake accounts of their own for a variety of reasons.

According to a survey of 1,500 US social media users conducted by USCasinos.com, one in three US social media users have multiple accounts on the social media platforms they use. About half (48%) of people with multiple accounts have two or more additional accounts.

Reasons for creating additional accounts vary, but the most commonly cited are “sharing my thoughts without judgment” (41%) and “spying someone else’s profile” (38%).

Other motives behind creating fake accounts include “increasing my chances of winning an online contest” (13%), “increasing likes, followers and other metrics on my real account” (5%), fooling others (2.6%) Are included. and for scamming others (0.4%).

When asked where they were creating their fake accounts, respondents most often named Twitter (41%), followed by Facebook (31%) and Instagram (28%). “That’s because Twitter is pretty much open by default,” said Will Duffield, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a Washington, DC think tank.

“Twitter power users will often have multiple accounts — one for a mass audience, other for smaller groups, one that is open by default, one that is private,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Infographic explains where US residents create fake social media accounts

Infographic Credit: USCasinos.com


Twitter prompted the research by the online casino directory site, noted study co-author Ines Ferreira. “We started this study primarily because of discussions about Elon Musk and the Twitter deal,” she told TechNewsWorld.

That deal is currently tied up in the courts and hinges on a dispute between Musk and the Twitter board over the number of fake accounts on the platform.

sex changing detective

The types of fake accounts in the study, however, differ from the ones that confused Musk. “The survey tackles two completely different issues,” Duffield said.

“On the one hand, you have automated accounts – things operated by machines and often used for spamming. This is the kind of fake account that Elon Musk alleges Twitter has too much,” he told TechNewsWorld. There are pseudonymous accounts, which are being surveyed here. They are operated by users who do not wish to use their real names.”

The survey also found that most users retained their same gender (80.9%) when creating fake accounts. The main exception to that practice, the survey noted, is when users want to spy on other accounts. Then they are in favor of creating a fake account of the opposite sex. In general, one in 10 (13.1%) of those surveyed said they used the opposite sex when creating fake accounts.

Infographic reveals how many fake social media accounts owners own

Infographic Credit: USCasinos.com


“There are a number of reasons why we don’t want everything we do online to be associated with our real name,” Duffield said. “And it doesn’t necessarily have to be cancel culture or anything like that.”

“One of the great things about the Internet is that it allows us to divulge identities without committing ourselves or trying on new individuals so that we can showcase one aspect of ourselves at a time,” he said. Explained.

“It is absolutely normal for people to use pseudonyms online. If anything, using real names is a more contemporary expectation,” he said.

Accounts created with impunity

The study also found that most fake account creators (53.3%) prefer to keep the practice a secret from their inner circle of acquaintances. When they mentioned their fake accounts, they were most likely to mention them, followed by friends (29.9%), family (9.9%) and partners (7.7%).

The researchers also found that more than half of the owners of fake accounts (53.3%) were millennials, while Gen X had an average of three fake accounts and Gen Z had an average of two.

According to the study, the creators of fake accounts do this. When asked whether their fake accounts were reported on the platforms on which they were created, 94% of the participants responded negatively.

Infographic describing platforms where fake social media accounts have been reported

Infographic Credit: USCasinos.com


“Every time these platforms release new algorithms to report these accounts, most of them never report them,” Ferreira said. “There are so many fake accounts, and you can create them so easily, it’s really hard to identify them all.”

“After Elon Musk’s deal with Twitter, these platforms are going to be thinking a little bit more about how they’re going to do it,” she said.

However, Duffield downplayed the need for users to police fake accounts. “Creating these accounts is not against the platform rules, so there is no reason for the platform to consider them a problem,” he said.

“Since these accounts are operated by real people, even though they do not have real names, they act like real people,” he continued. “They’re messaging one person at a time. They’re taking the time to type things out. They have a typical day/night cycle. They’re sending messages to 100 different people at once at all hours of the day. Not sending thousand messages.

harmless fake?

Duffield stressed that unlike fake accounts created by bots, fake accounts created by users are less harmful to the platforms hosting them.

“There is a theory that people abuse more often when they are using a pseudonymous account or one that is not tied to their real identity, but from a sobriety perspective, banning a pseudonymous account is a real person.” No different from banning,” he observed.

“Facebook has had a real-name policy, although it has received a lot of criticism over the years,” he said. “I’d say it’s under-applied intentionally at this point.”

“As long as the pseudonymous account is complying with the rules, this is not a problem for the platforms,” he said.

While bot accounts do not contribute to the social media platform’s business model, fake user accounts do.

Duffield explained, “If the pseudonymous account is being used by a real human being, they are still seeing the ad.” “It’s not like a bot clicking on things without a human being involved. Regardless of the name on the account, if they’re seeing contextual ads and they’re being shown, from a platform standpoint, it’s not really a problem. Is.”

“Activity is reflected in monthly active user statistics, which is what the platform, advertisers and potential buyers care about,” he continued. “The total number of accounts is a useless statistic because people constantly drop accounts.”

Still, Ferreira argued that any form of fake account undermines the credibility of social media platforms. “At some point,” she said, “there are going to be more fake users than real users, so they need to do something about that now.”