Why it makes sense to use fake data on the Internet (sometimes)

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 24, 2013
Updated • Oct 25, 2013

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?

fake data
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Closing Words

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?


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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