From Facebook to Tinder, there are plenty of places online where people can and do lie about themselves. Researchers have found that it’s particularly common to lie on online dating profiles, where as many as 80% of users lie a little bit, particularly about their appearance. Users of online dating sites and apps tend to lie about their more positive physical qualities, which they exaggerate marginally to increase their chances of attracting interest from potential partners.
But it’s not just on Match.com or Tinder that people lie. Lies are also common on Facebook, on Instagram, and on all of the social networks and apps that people use to connect with others in some way. And a desire to make oneself look more attractive isn’t the only motivation for lying online. A Consumer Reports survey found that 25% of respondents falsified information on their Facebook profiles to protect their identity. In fact, plenty of advice columnists (and people who are skeptical about human nature) note that it may be wise to assume that everybody on the internet is lying about everything until you have proof that indicates otherwise.
So, what kinds of things do people lie about on the internet? What sorts of lies have become so routine that you’ll want to take related claims with a grain of salt? Read on to check out a few of the things that just about everybody lies about on the internet. You may never look at your social media friends or your dating matches the same.
1. Basic biographical information
Rebecca Greenfield reported years ago for the Atlantic that there are many lies you can get away with on Facebook (and a few lies that you can’t). Facebook won’t let you lie about your name thanks to its real-name policy. The social network also makes it pretty tough to lie about your email address, unless you want to create a fake email account, which, nonetheless, can likely be linked to you.
But on Facebook and on other major social networks, there are plenty of basic pieces of biographical information that you can get away with lying about. You can use any photo you want on your profile. You can lie about your interests, about the languages you speak, or about where you live, where you were born, where you work, and where you went to high school or college. You can also lie about your religious views or political views, which can make for some good jokes.
And on dating sites, plenty of people lie about how much money they make or even whether they’re actually still married. People think that they can get away with all kinds of lies online — and they often do if the people who interact with them aren’t at least a little bit skeptical.