Much of the public discourse on online honesty has centered around fake news and corporate transparency. However, consumers are often part of the problem. The MTV show “Catfish” popularized the concept of taking on a false persona for online dating and friendship. Consumers are also motivated to be less than honest online by everything from career advancement to financial scams.

At Branded, we were curious how many of our community members have pretended to be someone else or taken on a different persona online to impress others. We polled our community on May 1, 2018 and 16,827 users responded.

Overall our research found that the vast majority of users are honest online. But about 1 in 5 users have pretended to be someone else online to impress others. Digging deeper into the data reveals nuances by target audiences.

Gender matters when it comes to online honesty and authenticity. Men are more likely than women to have taken on a different persona online in the past. Roughly 25 percent of men say they have pretended be to someone else online versus 18 percent of women. Millennial men are even more likely to say they have pretended to be someone else online at 34 percent.

% who have Catfished by Gender

 

Our research also revealed nuances by race and ethnicity. Asian users are most likely than those of other racial and ethnic backgrounds to have pretended to be someone else online. Roughly 28 percent of Asian users say have pretended to be someone else online compared to 23 percent of Hispanic users, 20 percent of African American users and 16 percent of Caucasian users.

% who have Catfished by Race & Ethnicity