Temporary social profiles may help adults vet feedback on sensitive topics

Tawfiq Ammari, School of Information, says temporary social profiles can lead to robust conversations around sensitive topics.

Temporary social profiles are being used for more than just online scams and disinformation. Tawfiq Ammari, a PhD candidate in the School of Information, says these “throwaway” accounts might help adults collect helpful comments and feedback on “socially stigmatizing” topics such as divorce, postpartum depression, and mental health.

Ammari, with colleagues, recently conducted a study of 10 years worth of posts on three Reddit parenting boards: Parenting, Daddit, and Mommit. These temporary, anonymous accounts allow adults to see how others react to their posts before sharing sensitive information on their personal accounts.

“This gives them a chance to probe what acceptable limits are. They can talk about all of the sordid details in the throwaway account, and then at some point they think, ‘I might as well graduate to a main account,'” Ammari said.

Author: Mona Beydoun, ITS Communications

Mona is an intern at U-M ITS. Contact her at monabey@umich.edu or on LinkedIn.