You’ve probably already heard that Reddit, the self-proclaimed front page of the internet, is an anonymous platform. Anyone can register there with an email of their choosing and can choose a random username that doesn’t have to be linked to a real identity (like Facebook) in any way.
But is Reddit truly anonymous? Can you hide your Reddit profile, activity, comments, and posts? What about Reddit Anonymous Browsing – just how anonymous is it?
We’ve dug deep into Reddit and have answers to all your anonymity and privacy concerns below.
Why is Reddit considered anonymous?
It’s actually very easy and quick to create a Reddit account – you don’t need a phone number, and you don’t even need a working email.
You don’t have to enter your real name, a random username does the trick (as long as it hasn’t been claimed by someone else, of course).
Within a few seconds, you can start posting and commenting on Reddit.
No link to a phone number, to another social profile, just your email address on the new version of Reddit (which can be a burner email too, of course).
Even though there is an email field when you register – you can just fill this blank when you visit old.reddit.com.
Because it is so easy and extremely fast to create new accounts – it’s pretty easy to create a new one to keep a degree of anonymity.
A lot of people claim that Reddit’s anonymity is sometimes also one of its caveats – and it causes some Reddit communities to become quite toxic and mean.
Some people have even left or stopped using Reddit for those exact reasons.
What are Reddit throwaway accounts?
You’ve probably already heard of the term ‘throwaway account’, usually when someone is posting in a rather sensitive subreddit (one of the NSFW ones, or /r/TIFU (Today I Fucked Up), for example).
“applesaucelover97” is a perfect example of a throwaway account name, for example.
Most Redditors have the main account where they post and comment, but when they’re posting that’s a little bit more sensitive, they’ll use a throwaway account. These are often single-use accounts with the sole purpose of posting something without it linking back to their regular/main Reddit account.
“I post on throwaway accounts and delete the accounts every few weeks. The account names aren’t saved in the posts, and the posts aren’t linked in any visible way. I’m sure Reddit has code in the back end to track people, but as far as I know, thanks to Reddit’s general lack of ads, there just aren’t a ton of DMPs (data management platforms), so there aren’t a lot of data points to correlate with.” – exelius, Ycombinator
Is Reddit really anonymous, or is there a way to link someone’s identity to a Reddit profile?
Generally, Reddit profiles are anonymous – provided you’ve used a ‘throwaway’ username that you’ve never used before on other websites or social media. There’s no link to an email address, to social profiles, to phone numbers…
Of course, you can’t reveal any of your personally identifiable information on Reddit yourself, but if you don’t, you’re pretty much golden. In other words, we can say that it is pretty much anonymous. The anonymity also applies to most of the third-party apps on Reddit, such as Reddit Manager.
However, that doesn’t mean that Reddit is truly 100% anonymous and can’t be traced.
Even though there aren’t emails or phone numbers associated with your Reddit account, one could use rather sophisticated tracking measures such as IP fingerprinting, browser signatures, linguistic analysis of your content, and topic patterns to link a user to a Reddit profile.
We do want to emphasize, however, that this is extremely hard for the average user and practically only possible from within Reddit itself, or if you’ve got tracking software installed on your device already (in which case, you’ve got more to worry about than your Reddit profile being out in the open).
Furthermore, Reddit also shows a minimal amount ads to its users (unless you pay for Reddit Premium or get Reddit Premium for free), and the current Reddit CEO Steve Huffman once said that the platform generally knows what its users are interested in:
“We know all of your interests. Not only just your interests you are willing to declare publicly on Facebook – we know your dark secrets, we know everything…”
Unsurprisingly, this was met with quite some criticism by Reddit users themselves. Even though Reddit is anonymous – you can’t exactly say that the company doesn’t know anything about you either. Potato, potato.
Can people see your Reddit history and saved/hidden posts?
Don’t worry about hiding your Reddit viewing history – no other users are able to see this except for yourself. You can also delete your Reddit history if you’d like.
Your saved and hidden posts are also safe – no other people can see what posts an account has saved.
Can people see your own posts and comments?
Yes – these are ‘public’ and easily accessible if you visit one’s profile. If you want nobody to see this, use a throwaway account or simply delete the content from your profile.
Can people see what Reddit communities you’re in?
Yes – the communities you’ve subscribed to are also publicly displayed on a profile page by default. However, you can choose to hide some subreddits from your profile if they’re sensitive.
Can people see your email address on a Reddit profile?
No, since you don’t even have to link an email address to an account, this is not a worry. Even if you did use an email to register an account, users can never trace your email via your Reddit profile.
This is true the other way around as well – if you’ve got an email address, you can’t find any Reddit accounts associated with it.
Can you give Reddit awards anonymously?
Yes, in fact, Reddit awards are actually anonymous by default. There is an “award this anonymously” link whenever you want to give an award to someone with a good post or comment and don’t want your Reddit username associated with it.
Of course, you can also choose to give an award publically. If you do so, the person you’ve given the award to will know your username and it will also be public to other users.
Posts or comments that you’ve received an award on are visible in your profile under the ‘gilded’ or ‘awards received’ section, although Reddit is phasing this out and redirects to the old version of the site when you click it.
Can you report someone on Reddit anonymously, without them knowing?
It is possible to submit a report about a piece of content (post, message, comment) that’s infringing the Reddit rules or the law anonymously. There is a “report this anonymously” feature which is standard by default.
Should you wish – you can also include your username, but it certainly isn’t necessary. This can be useful if you’re trying to have a conversation with the mods (or admins) about the content you’ve reported.
The person who has been reported by you will not know who it came from. So yes, it is possible and even expected to report someone on Reddit anonymously.
Is Reddit’s Anonymous Browsing feature really anonymous?
For the most part, absolutely. Think of Reddit’s Anonymous Browsing as a built-in incognito mode, just for Reddit. Anything you read won’t be in your history, and you won’t be able to do anything that could link back towards your profile – so no awards, no posting, no commenting, no chatting/messaging, and no awarding.
Any ads or homepage content you’ll see also will not be personalized.
Reddit Anonymous Browsing really is anonymous and an extra security layer – but it’s only applicable on Reddit, of course. Tracking from third parties (such as screen time on your phone) will still be able to see that you’ve actually visited Reddit.
Here’s how Reddit’s own support page describes the functionality:
In short, Reddit is one of the more privacy-friendly social platforms out there. Being able to create a throwaway account in just mere seconds without even needing an email address is pretty much unseen nowadays, making it very easy to have an anonymous footprint.