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Survey shows internet users create anonymous account to protect digital reputation

Fresh from a study conducted in November, global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky reveals that a significant number (35%) of social media users in Southeast Asia have created and maintain anonymous accounts.

There could be several reasons for this including heightened awareness of digital privacy or could be used for criminal purposes.

In a briefing, Kaspersky general manager for Southeast Asia Yeo Sang Tiong said that of the 35% who have anonymous accounts, 70% came from Facebook, 37% on YouTube, 33% on Instagram, and 35% on Twitter. The reason varies with 49% who just want to express their interests whether in politics or lifestyle.

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Social media used to be an open platform where people could express themselves freely. But differing views — especially in politics — led to fights, name-calling, and even threats. This justifies the 48% who just want to exercise freedom of speech.

Personal identifiers

The more conscious of data privacy created their anonymous account to keep their personal information safe.

“Some people have a different social profile for selling or purchasing online,” Yeo. “These are very different ways of using anonymous accounts. Consumers have that knowledge that they need to keep their lives separate and anonymous accounts.”

The Kaspersky survey, which involved 1,000 respondents, reveals that 5 in 10 check the social media profile of brands or businesses before making a decision on a purchase.

Over half or 51% of the respondents said that if a brand figured in a scandal, it is highly likely that they ditch the brand. Forty-one percent (41%) said that the reputation of brands or endorsers could affect the outcome of a potential purchase. The bad news for brands is that 36% said they have stopped using any product if the company is associated with a scandal or negative news.

“Keeping your privacy (should be) topmost on your mind,” Yeo said. “While we may not agree with some of the reasons why people are keeping their accounts anonymous (not including malicious intent) but there are times when you need to keep your personal identifiers, as anonymous as possible.”

Disclosing personal information online is extremely discouraged. That’s why many people recommend a separate and dedicated email used purely for digital transactions. There should also be a separate email for subscriptions and other online activities that when compromised wouldn’t do as much damage.

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