There are quite a few situations on the Internet where you are asked to enter data about yourself. Maybe you are leaving a comment on a blog and are asked for a name and email address, making a purchase on eBay or Amazon, want to email the developer of a product, or want to access information that are only available to registered users.
While it makes sense to use your data at times, for instance the right street address and location when creating an account on a shopping site, it often does not really matter if you are using your real name and email address or fake data. Should you use your real email address when you leave a comment on a blog, or a temporary one to avoid the risk that your email address is sold and your inbox flooded with spam?
The core benefit of using fake data is that it improves your privacy while online. There are other benefits, including the following:
What are the benefits of using fake data?
- What you do cannot be linked easily to you. While there are still some possibilities, like through your IP address, the data that you enter cannot be linked back to you that easily. This can also come in handy if you do not want someone to create a profile of your Internet activities, as you can use different information on different sites so that links are not that obvious. If you use the same username on all sites, it is relatively easy to establish connections.
- You can avoid a lot of spam and the selling of your data to the highest bidder. This is especially true for email addresses that you enter on websites, but also for information about your location, occupation, hobbies and other information that are of interest to marketers.
- You do not necessarily have to remember the data. If you just want to leave a comment on a site for example, it does not really matter if you are using your real name and email address or fake data. This changes if you want to follow up on this or want to become a regular on a site though. It can be very convenient to use fake data instead of your real information.
What are the dangers?
- Fake data can only be verified by you to a certain degree. If a fake account or data fails a verification check, you may lose accounts, access or information that you have entered in the past. Some repercussions are worse than others. While you may not care about the deletion of a comment that you left a year ago, you may run into troubles if you lose a domain name or account because of it.
- Depending on where you live and what you do online, you may get into legal troubles if you use fake data. While you won't usually if you use a temporary email address to sign up for a web service, you may get into troubles if you use fake data, especially in a commercial context.
- You may lose access to temporary email addresses, or someone else may use the very same email address to get into accounts. If you have used a temporary email address service in the past to sign up for services, and that service goes down, you may not be able to get back into that account if you use your account information. Plus, others may use the very same email address to get into accounts by asking for a new password to be sent to the email address. This is however only true if all emails are accessible by all users of the service.
There is nothing wrong with using fake data on the Internet, provided that you are careful where you use it. Using a temporary email address or a fake name when you sign up for services, or leave a comment on a site is a defensive measure to protect your privacy.
Have you been using fake data before on the Internet? If so, in which situation?