You may not know you are doing something illegal online

Despite fake names being illegal, almost eight in 10 Americans do not care and plan to continue using a fake name on the internet.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Countless Americans break the law unknowingly -- and a lot of it happens online.

You may not be the law-abiding citizens you think you are. Whether it is driving over the speed limit, or hosting a poker night with friends, you could be more guilty than you realize.

To find out the most common offenses we commit, and if we are likely to repeat them, law firm Lawsuit.org asked 1,071 Americans about their 'minor' offenses.

The results show that almost all (96%) Americans consider themselves to be law-abiding citizens. However, over four out of five Americans  (81%) had committed one 'minor' offense in the last year.

You may not know you are doing something illegal online zdnet

The most common offense is jaywalking, followed by sharing your Netflix password, pirating music and videos, and using a fake name on social media. Forty-five percent of the people studied were unaware that sharing their Netflix logins is technically illegal.

These results varied greatly across different generations. Millennials are more likely than others to borrow passwords to access streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Prime, or Hulu.

Amongst baby boomers, only 13% shared their Netflix password. Almost one in four (23.5%) of Generation X, 30.9% of millennials, and a whopping 59.1% of Generation Z shared their Netflix passwords.

Generation Z was almost the most likely to repeat this behavior (31.8%), compared to baby boomers, who, when pointed out that this practice is illegal, would not repeat this activity again.

Most people do not know that their 'finsta' in actually illegal. Younger generations are more likely to use a fake name on the internet. 

Using a fake name is practiced by 17.6% of baby boomers, 22.9% of Generation X, 24.9% of millennials, and 40.9% of Generation Z. This generation was most likely to repeat the activity, with 18.2% of Gen Z compared to 12.2% of millennials and 11.1% of Gen X.

Pirating music or video content is also most prevalent amongst Generation Z, who are also most likely to repeat this illegal activity. Only 10.7% of baby boomers pirated music or video content, followed by 18.3% of Gen X, 29% of millennials, and 59.1% of Gen Z.

When advised that this practice is illegal, 31.8% of Gen Z would be likely to repeat this activity, followed by 15.2% of millennials, and 9.5% of Gen X. Once again, no baby boomers (0.0%) would repeat this activity once they knew it was illegal.

These results show that even those Americans who consider themselves to be law-abiding may still choose to skip over a law or two. Ethics and morals often clash with the law. But if Netflix is truly playing the long game -- it will get its money eventually -- when Gen Z finally comes of age.

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