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I created this fake Instagram account on my phone while using TunnelBear VPN without any links to my ‘real’ account. Now I’m wondering if the police are still able to trace my true location? If so, how can I prevent this? I’m no expert on the subject so I’d appreciate some simple answers.

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  • What exactly is your threat model? Why would the police attempt to find your location?
    – user163495
    Jun 12, 2019 at 8:41

2 Answers 2

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Now I’m wondering if the police is still able to trace my true location?

It's clearly possible to track you down, even if you use a proxy which don't save any logs. There are various browser fingerprinting methods that can reveal your real location. Some of them are (mostly used together):

  • Heigh and width of your browser window
  • Canvas fingerprinting
  • Evercookies like DNS entries or other methods
  • General cookies
  • Different locations where it's hard to find cookies (like Storing cookies in Web History, Storing cookies in HTTP ETags, Storing cookies in Web cache, ...)
  • Items and messages your OS is sending

Take a look at this site which shows you if your browser is traceable or not. Maybe it helps you: https://amiunique.org/fp

If so, how can I prevent this?

If you want to stay undetected you can use Tails as an OS and try to combine TOR with an bridge and a VPN. Normally TOR blocks most tracking methods. But take care! If you are not a professional it can happen that you make some mistakes and can even be traced with this programs.

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  • I’ve already tried using tor, but it didn’t let me create an Instagram account. Are there any fixes to this?
    – Centaurius
    Jun 11, 2019 at 18:12
  • Yea. Try using different nodes and refresh as long as this IP isn't recognized anymore. If you can't find a node that isn't used a lot, search in Tor for online proxys and create an account with them. It costs you some time but it's more secure for you.
    – Cyberduck
    Jun 11, 2019 at 18:14
  • Alright, I’ll try that. Thanks.
    – Centaurius
    Jun 11, 2019 at 18:17
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  • PlayStore

If you downloaded Instagram from the Playstore, there is a email account from google bound to the service, gmails accounts ask for a phone number to validate the account isn't a bot. And with your phone number you can be recognised and tracked.

  • Instagrams logs

Law enforcers in most places can send a requeriment to Instagram and VPN Services to ask for logs of activity for an account or group of accounts. That means if there was a connection to that account without a VPN at any point, it could narrow down the location of the person using the account.

Using some VPN services only add a few extra days in searching the origin location of the connection.

  • Social Engineering

In most cases the human part is the weakest link in most systems, the police could message this account and try to ask for information to find who and where are you. Is the most used method and works in people not used to this kind of searchs.

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  • I created the account via the Instagram website, I didn’t download the app. Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve my anonymity any further?
    – Centaurius
    Jun 11, 2019 at 18:14
  • Anonymity and tracing physical location are very different things. What are you asking about?
    – schroeder
    Jun 11, 2019 at 18:47
  • @Centaurius If anonymity is the key, I would recommend to avoid using any social networks, everyone can be tracked. and all information that is in computers outside of your control are just evidence that you can't delete.
    – Tridam
    Jun 11, 2019 at 19:35
  • @schroeder I’m sorry for the confusion, my intention is to prevent law enforcement from tracing my location.
    – Centaurius
    Jun 11, 2019 at 19:50

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