Burn After Tweeting: Burner Accounts, Backlash, and You

Eric Ryan
July 27, 2018

It’s got to be hard being in the public eye. Imagine: cameras everywhere, people second guessing your every move, and it being impossible to go anywhere without at least one person staring and gawking, let alone coming up to you and saying something.

You’re constantly in PR-mode. Speaking about compassion and loving your fans and always giving it your all sounds dreadful, right? Well believe it or not, a lot of celebrities are people too (most of them actually). And they have opinions that don’t quite fit the bill of the synchronizing, expediting, buzzword-heavy speak that they’re required by cultural law to always, always communicate in.

So how do these people ever get a chance to express themselves? Well, they basically do the opposite of catfishing. No – not dogbirding. They create burner accounts on Twitter.

“What’s a burner account?” you may ask.

Well I’ll put it this way: Know how every celebrity on Twitter is actually just some old dude who works at Target in real life? Well imagine that every old dude who works at Target on Twitter is actually a real life celebrity. Weird how that works.

You make a fake account and now you’re scot-free to say whatever you want to whoever you want whenever you want. Some people like Lorde use it as a harmless escape to review onion rings and not have every comment just brown-nose about her music.

And she’s not the only one. From Jon Hamm to James Comey to surprise, surprise, the president himself, it seems like everyone has a quick and easy alias to hide their identity, and since Trump doesn’t have to call in as a spokesperson anymore, it really has only gotten easier.

So why do they do it? Well, simply because it’s a nice little respite from the harrowing reality of making millions of dollars and being able to reliably retire at the age of 23 if you wanted to. I kid, but really it’s a way to voice an opinion without being bombarded by millions of people who watch your life and put you under a microscope.

Does that sound good to you? Are you a celebrity that wants to complain anonymously too, but you’re not sure how? Well worry not, I’m here to help!

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Make an email

All you need is an original account name and password and bam, you’re Dikembe Mutombo and your email is IWantADonutWithoutTheHole@gmail.com. Yes it’s real, I made it in five minutes.

Step 2: Make a Twitter account

Done and done. Now my handle is @DikembeMutomb20. That’s right, 19 people have already tried to be Mutombo. I’m honestly surprised the number is that low. My account got locked immediately, sure, but in a matter of seconds I’m back in business. So now you’re free to roam the amazing park of TwitterWorld, like a little Twitter host running around and performing narratives with the Twitter guests about how much Sam Hinkie is a jerk, and how funny Blake Griffin is in real life or something like that

You also may be wondering to yourself, “Hey Dikembe, I thought this was for celebrities, why would you make your account someone famous? Doesn’t that defeat the point of a burner account?” Well, you’re exactly right. But I’m not famous. Yet. So simply swap out Mutumbo with John Smith or somebody like that if you’re popular unlike me.

Step 3: Don’t say stuff that would ruin your career and/or your reputation just to defend your honor from Twitter randos.

Don’t worry, this step’s not hard, right? …right?

Well, well, well, turns out it’s not so simple. For those not involved in basketball, Bryan Colangelo was the former GM of the Philadelphia 76ers who decided that he had enough of those pesky Philly fans who ridiculed his every move (A.K.A. just about every sports fan). So reportedly his wife (some still think it was him) went to Twitter and created burner accounts out the wazoo to fight back against the criticism.

Then the Colangelos went to town, arguing with people about the trades he made, how bad the men who replaced him in former GM jobs are doing and just about anything else people were saying about him. Hell, he even argued with a dude about collars (Bryan has earned himself a reputation for his affinity for bigguns).

And naturally, since fake accounts can hide anything except thin skin, the person who created at least five separate accounts to fight back left a trail that could be lead back to them. That’s where the article linked above came in, and not even a week after having his petty online fights exposed, Colangelo resigned and is no longer involved with the Sixers.

You see, there are some serious repercussions that come from revealing your true feelings (and also medical information about a player that should have absolutely not have been revealed). You will get ridiculed by just about everybody, get fired and probably never work in the business again. All of that just to show @Philly_Asshole that you’re the big man on campus.

That being said, it’s incredibly easy to not get caught like Colangelo did. Just follow the classic anti-cyber-bullying mantra of “close the damn page” and then suddenly Mr Irrelevant’s incorrect commentary on your skills fades into the wave of a billion other tweets about you.

Wait, am I turning this around to say some kind of statement on cyber-bullying? You bet your bottom dollar I will. Social has a lot of hate and antagonism on it because it’s easy to get out, quick to articulate, and when the trolls get the reaction they want, dear lord do they get it. And the kind of scrutiny you can fall under when you use burners for serious matters can follow you forever.

Sometimes it’s best to just close the page, ignore the comments, and come back later to see that the post has only 2 retweets and you have a sense of maturity and foresight to not have ruined your reputation, career, and possibly your life.

So if you ever feel guilty about something you said in response to a random Twitter dude, try to be a little easier on yourself. After all, the General Manager of a basketball team got himself fired because he couldn’t handle some rando saying his collars were too big.