I wanted to know if there's a word for a sneaky tactic involving falsely calling yourself a person of the opposite side to your actual viewpoint (perhaps in an anonymous setting) to use as a weapon to discredit that opposite side's argument.

Eg. Someone commenting online anonymously on some relevant message board "As a radical feminist myself, I think that the gender pay gap is a myth" when they are actually secretly a misogynist portraying themselves as a radical feminist.

Sorry if I mistagged this. It's my first post.

  • 3
    I think the popular term is "false flag".
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 9, 2019 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


false flag may be one way of ways of describing this behavior.

A false flag is intentional misrepresentation, especially a covert political or military operation carried out to appear as if it was undertaken by another party.

While this term is usually applied to CIA, MI6 stuff, it may find an application here.


  • 1
    It has become an enormously popular term in the "blogsphere", for obvious reasons.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 10, 2019 at 0:03
  • 1
    It's MI6. Americans have to put hyphens into mixed letter/number names e.g. B-52, K-9, M-1, F-14, and so on, whereas Brits leave 'em out. The British TV drama series about the British government spy organisation MI5, called "Spooks" was retitled "MI-5" for the US market. God knows why. Feb 10, 2019 at 0:17
  • @MichaelHarvey Gotcha. Point taken. Ya know that up until a few years ago they were calling themselves SIS, right? Feb 10, 2019 at 0:52
  • The official and legal name is the Secret Intelligence Service, or SIS. During the Second World War, the name MI6 was used as a flag of convenience, and the popular media still use this today. MI5, which is often confused with MI6, is the Security Service, which deals with domestic threats. Feb 10, 2019 at 8:42

Someone was commenting online under (by, on) false pretenses on x message board.

by or under false pretenses TFE idiom

By or under a false impression created through intentional misrepresentation.

He presented himself under false pretenses as one of their group to discredit them and cause mischief!

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