Why Southeast Asians keep anonymous accounts on social media

It is not surprising that you know someone or some people who have anonymous accounts online. You also probably have encountered what we usually call ‘posers’ in social media.

During the recent Cybersecurity Weekend, an annual conference hosted by Kaspersky, the global online security vendor revealed interesting findings of its ‘Digital Reputation’ research conducted in Southeast Asia. The study found that 30% of the 1,240 respondents from across the region surveyed in November 2020 have admitted to having a social media profile that uses not their real name, photos, or personally identifiable information.

The volume of anonymous online users is also highest in Southeast Asia at 35% compared to other regions—South Asia at 28% and Australia at 20%. Not surprisingly, the most popular social networking site, Facebook, is where most anonymous users thrive (70%) followed by YouTube (37%), Instagram (33%), and Twitter (25%).

“From the initial purpose of finding and connecting with friends and families, social media has evolved and will continue to evolve in unprecedented ways,” said Kaspersky General Manager for Southeast Asia Yeo Siang Tiong. “It has played a key role in how we socialize and identify with each other, but now, we have arrived at a form in the road where virtual profiles of both individuals and companies are being used as a parameter for judgment.”

The use of nameless and faceless profiles could be two-pronged, according to Kaspersky. Findings of the study show that using anonymous accounts could allow individuals to follow their passions and harness free speech. On the other hand, anonymity could also pave the way for malicious conduct and harmful activities.

Based on the survey, here are the top reasons why consumers across Southeast Asia tend to use anonymous accounts when using social media:

1. To express secret interests they want to hide from online friends – 49%

2. To exercise freedom of speech without affecting their reputation – 48%

3. To disagree with someone or news online without using real identity – 36%

4. To share information about their favorite artists or interests – 29%

5. For stalking someone online – 23%

About 3% of the poll respondents also expressed other reasons why they go anonymous when using social media:

• For online selling purposes

• To make online purchases without friends/families knowing

• To avoid getting bashed by people

• To create an alternate account for online games

• To enter giveaways without being judged

• To avoid being attacked by cybercriminals