[Ads-l] burner account

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 18 23:03:31 UTC 2017

In an Mashable article today, I ran into the expression “burner account”.

Please, good lord, tell me Kevin Durant is arguing with trolls on secret social media accounts
http://mashable.com/2017/09/18/kevin-durant-secret-twitter/ <http://mashable.com/2017/09/18/kevin-durant-secret-twitter/>
Brian de Los Santos

Internet inspectors connected the dots on Reddit and claimed that Durant meant to reply to @ColeCashwell using a fake burner account to defend his own honor, thus hiding his identity when engaging in Twitter schadenfreude.

The Oxford Living Dictionaries (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/burner <https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/burner>) say that a “burner” is "A cheap mobile phone paid for in advance”, a definition that Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/burner <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/burner>) narrows slightly: "A mobile phone used for only a short time and then thrown away so that the owner cannot be traced.”

In 2014, Chris Messina discussed this term in "Adding ‘unlisted' and ‘burner' to the modern lexicon” (https://medium.com/chris-messina/unlisted-and-burner-two-new-terms-to-learn-78d3a2c17f5a <https://medium.com/chris-messina/unlisted-and-burner-two-new-terms-to-learn-78d3a2c17f5a>).

Messina provides a YouTube video that is evidently from “The Wire” as an example of the sort of burner phone that the OLD and Wiktionary talk about. He argues that the key element in this use of “burner” is that the item being described has an attribute that can be replaced, such as a phone number. In other words, a burner (phone) is a burner because the phone number can be discarded without a connection to the owner, as opposed to a landline or social security number which cannot.

Messina also mentions the use of burner accounts on Kinja (https://kinja.desk.com/customer/en/portal/articles/1192515-what-is-a-burner-account- <https://kinja.desk.com/customer/en/portal/articles/1192515-what-is-a-burner-account->), which makes explicit the use of an account that does not identify the owner.

It’s not completely clear to me, but I think Los Santos’s use of “fake in “fake burner account” is redundant, but perhaps you can argue that since Durant was faking being someone else, the word “fake” adds semantic meaning.

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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