Is it normal to lie online?

Whether it’s photoshopping out your spots on a profile picture or laying it on a bit thick with the status updates, everyone bends the truth on the web. But how much do these little exaggerations build up into a bigger lie and what effect can they have on our relationships, our mental wellbeing and the way we’re perceived by others?

In this clip from Online and Lying vlogger Emily Hartridge explains how she exaggerates little bits her personality to appear cooler on social media than she is in real life. However, she’s starting to wonder if all these tiny edits add up to one big fat fib.

Want to see more about Emily's investigations into online identity? Check out the full series for free on All 4.


Is it normal to... lie online?


Little white lies?

From lifestyle envy to falling foul of the law, let’s look beyond those status updates to see the hidden truth about lying online...

Digital Envy

A recent study by a German university suggested a direct link between reading your friends’ Facebook updates and feelings of negativity, envy and dissatisfaction. But whilst comparing yourself to your peers may seem a recipe for low self-esteem, the endless stream of awesomeness that trickles through your newsfeed might not be what it seems.

Seeing Through the Spin

When your Instagram is full of your friends’ holidays photos and your Snapchat is a parade of other people’s party pics, it’s easy to think your life’s a bit boring in comparison. But what you’re seeing isn’t the reality of other people’s lives – it’s just the edited highlights. Most of us project the life we want others to think we live, not the one we actually do. Remember: nobody shares the boring bits.

Getting Caught Out

Lying is hard work and keeping tabs on all of the fibs you post online can take a lot effort. Whether it’s fabricating bits of your C.V. on a job site, embellishing a dating profile or pulling a sickie from work after a big night out, the internet makes it very easy to get found out. All it takes is for a mate to tag you in a dodgy photo or for a colleague to incriminate you in a status update and you’re rumbled. What’s more, your digital footprint is going to hang around forever, so a mistake today may well come back to haunt you.

Lying and the Law

Bending the truth to make your friends jealous is one thing but there are situations where lying online can get you into some very serious situations. For instance, using fake ‘catfish’ accounts to bully, blackmail or groom someone is definitely a no-no. Similarly, lying about other people online can put you on the fast track to trouble as there are specific laws around this (‘libel’ laws) that are taken very seriously indeed. These are increasingly being applied to updates and comments made on social media.

Don't get caught in the web

It’s easy to for people to hide behind a mask online. But if someone’s behaviour feels wrong, or if you don’t feel safe, there are specialist organisations who can help you understand your rights and provide support.

Check out the Channel 4 support site (This link opens in a new window)

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Is it normal to...

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