Do I have to use my real name?

In general, introducing yourself with your real name (or at least your first name) and an indication of where you work is a good rule of thumb when engaging online.

Social media is about human conversations, and it’s hard to get those going unless everyone is clear who they’re talking to. Clearly, others may hide behind abstract usernames or avatars and it’s their right to do so (generally speaking), but approaching situations with your name, a friendly picture and a short description of your role/interest in the topic immediately establishes your credibility and honesty.

There are exceptions – if there’s a legitimate reason to think individuals’ personal safety may be compromised by using your real identity in a particular discussion, then it’s sometimes worth introducing yourself as a someone who works for organisation X, and perhaps link to an explanation of why you don’t use your real names. Best not to hide behind a made up name, and definitely don’t impersonate others. Obviously.

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