‘Burner Accounts’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Amy Gilmore, updated on November 7, 2022

'Burner account' is a popular idiom. However, its use is fairly recent. So, if you are wondering what it means, you are not the only one. 

A 'burner account' is an account someone sets up with fake information for a specific use, but they do not intend on continuing to use the account long-term. 

If you want to learn more about the term, this guide gives definitions, meanings, examples, and tips on when and how to use the saying properly. 

What Does ‘Burner Accounts’ Mean? 

A ‘burner account’ is one that the user sets up with fake information to use for a specific purpose with no intention of maintaining the account long-term. It is called a ‘burner’ because you ‘burn’ it after use. 

These accounts are fake and do not contain information someone could use to identify the real account holder. Some common social platforms where people create these fake profiles include: 

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • PayPal
  • Cashapp
  • Whatsapp
  • Snapchat
  • TextNow

Depending on the way the person uses the account, it may or not contain photos and personal data. However, it is safe to assume that information found on a ‘burner account’ is inaccurate or even deceptive. 

Why Do People Use ‘Burner Accounts?’

People often use a ‘burner account’ to avoid storing their personal information or engaging in illegal or malicious activities online. They are also used by catfish when they are targeting a victim. 

A catfish is someone who represents themself as someone other than themself. In online dating communities, catfish commonly use a ‘burner account’ to conceal their identity. 

People also use ‘burner accounts’ to provide contact information to people with whom they do not want to share their personal information. For example, someone might give a ‘burner’ Snapchat handle or Instagram account to someone they meet at a bar or club that they have no interest in dating. 

A person may also create one of these profiles to conceal their identity when spamming, scamming, or bullying someone online. For example, if you were committing credit card fraud by using someone else’s credit card to order things from Facebook Marketplace, you would not use your personal Facebook account because you would likely get caught. 

Instead, you may create a ‘burner’ Facebook account to complete the purchase without leaving a direct trace back to you. 

Examples of Usage

Seeing an idiom used in different examples can help you better understand its meaning. So, take a look at these examples of this phrase used in a sentence below: 

  • Janice posted a bunch of nasty comments on Anthony’s page, but he didn’t know it was her. She used a ‘burner account.’
  • Did you give that creepy guy your real Instagram? You should have given him a ‘burner account.’
  • The form requires that you enter your social media profiles, but you can use ‘burner accounts instead. 

This is a slang term, and it is not the best choice for formal emails. Instead, you may want to say something like 'fraudulent accounts' or 'fake accounts.' For example:

  • The criminal opened a series of 'fraudulent accounts' to commit his crimes.
  • We believe the suspect opened a series of 'fake accounts' to disguise their identity. Please advise our department on the best course of action.

Related Idioms 

The term ‘burner account’ is relatively new and originated after social media sites' popularization. Other phrases that relate include: 

  • Doxing’ - To give someone’s location online in an attempt to cause them personal harm or harassment. 
  • ‘Catfishing’ - To pretend you are someone other than yourself, most commonly to meet or converse with someone online. 
  • ‘Burner phone’ - A phone used for a brief period, usually before, during, or after committing a crime. 
  • ‘Deep fake’ - A photo or video that looks like someone but is computer animated or edited. 
  • ‘Spamming’ - Sending or posting unsolicited information.
  • ‘Trolling’ - Writing rude or shocking comments to annoy or bully others. 
  • Phishing’ - A scam where criminals attempt to obtain your personal information to steal your identity. 

Final Advice on ‘Burner Accounts’ Meaning

'Burner account' is a slang term used for social media or dating profile apps that the user creates for a specific purpose but plans to 'burn' after completing their task. Creating these fake accounts violates the user agreement for most social providers. So, be careful if you use a 'burner account.'

Over the past few decades, numerous internet-related idioms have emerged. With so many new terms, it can be challenging to keep up with what they all mean. To avoid incorrectly using these popular idioms and figures of speech like 'on a side note,' 'woot woot,' 'canary in a coal mine,' and 'ebbs and flows,' bookmark writingtips.org. Then, you can check the meaning the next time you are unsure.



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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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