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The imaginary audience refers to an egocentric state where an individual imagines and believes that multitudes of people are enthusiastically listening to him or her at all times. Though this state is often exhibited in young adolescence, people of any age may harbor a belief in an imaginary audience.
In extreme cases, belief in an imaginary audience can lead to paranoia as the sufferer believes he or she is being watched by an invisible audience at all times. Fearing that he or she is being observed and evaluated, such an individual may develop a phobia of making mistakes or looking foolish in public.
In the case of social networks, a person will never know who views their profile, their friends, and their comments. An imagined audience provides a necessary way of envisioning who should be present. By imagining an audience, people are able to navigate the social situation required in crafting a profile. Yet, their audience online may not be who they think it is.