Can you use the expression “unreliable narrator” as a metaphor to describe a real person who’s relaying unreliable information?

For example:

“TikTok alleges that they don’t send their user’s personal information to China. They are an unreliable narrator in my opinion but you should keep that in mind.“

Edit: just in case some of you don't know, unreliable narrator is a term from literature for when the narrator presenting the story isn’t credible. Here's a link to the wikipedia page if you want to read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unreliable_narrator

  • What makes you think that you can't use the term “unreliable narrator” to describe a real person? Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 13:54
  • 2
    A narrator is a third party, not an interested nogaya bedavar. TikTok may be putting spin on their story, but as it's their PR, they are not narrating it. Still, you could use the term metaphorically here, to a friendly reader. Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 14:08
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    @YosefBaskin My intention is to use it metaphorically, I should have been more clear about it. I edited the post appropriately. Thanks :D
    – Yuval Amir
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 15:13
  • Why is this usage metaphorical? Dictionary.com has the broad definition 'narrator: a person who gives an account or tells the story of events, experiences, etc' and it's people behind communications companies. Etymon says that 'narrare' means 'to make acquainted with', not just 'tell a story'. Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 15:24
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    narrators are not metaphors. Tiktok is not a narrator.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


You can, if it refers to a narrative. In your context better is “an unreliable source.”

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