‘Discuss the arguments for and against having more than one online identity’.
The term ‘Digital identity’ is the data that uniquely describes a person or a thing and contains information about the subject’s relationships’ (Windley P, 2005) . We may be compelled to create more than one online identity in order to differentiate and disaffiliate our personal and professional lives or even different aspects within these. In the research paper ‘To be or not to be’ by the University of Salford, it highlights that the term ‘digital identity’ is becoming part of our lexicon and our lives (Costa and Torres, 2011).They suggest that these identities are fragmented as ‘every time we open an account for an online service, we are producing small fragments of our online identities’.
Digital Literacy, is becoming a necessity in this rapidly evolving technological era. There is an increasing awareness of the need to undertake new forms of learning, collaboration and dissemination of one’s work as part of one’s digital and professional footprint. Knowing how to effectively manage our public and private spaces online is a skill we can no longer disregard nor underestimate.
By possessing and maintaining online identities we can complement our formal professional development, enhance our networks and thus forge a digital identity as a new component of our professional profile. (Costa and Torres, 2011). For example an individual may decide to have two different Facebook accounts. They may communicate with work colleagues and clients on one which is occupied with more work-related content compared with their personal profile.
We can showcase our work and talents and connect with people of similar interests. I enjoy posting my artwork and poems online and discerned very quickly that there is plenty to be learnt from others. We can share new projects, tips, skills and honest critique.
‘There is no rose without a thorn’
Inevitably, there are cons associated with multiple online identities.
By encouraging people to adopt several online personas, it becomes more difficult to tell who is genuine or fake. This issue was documented in the film Catfish. For those who haven’t seen it, the trailer is below.
In his article ‘Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?’ Krotoski reviews Facebook’s belief that authenticity is linked to a person’s photo stream, which is why it paid $1bn for the photo-sharing service Instagram. (Krotoski, 2012). Essentially, we must use wisdom and prudence whilst engaging with strangers online.
‘Pictures speak a thousand words’
Privacy is a detrimental issue that concerns many individuals and can determine how they use the web. Journalist Jemima Kiss acknowledges the ‘Big Brother problem’ in her article of how ‘we face surveillance in our online world, on our mobiles, on the street through CCTV and perhaps next in our own internet-connected smarthomes, plus social scrutiny of the parts of our lives we choose to display on social networks. (Kiss, 2014). Upon researching this issue I came across many ways in which people are tackling security issues online which include:
The Tor Project: Browser and software that obfuscate a user’s web traffic so anyone watching is unable to trace who a user is or where they are coming from, by bouncing an individual’s communications through at least three different places. People can still be identifiable on a service like Facebook or Google if they choose to log in, but Tor prevents these sites knowing what users were doing before, and where they go after they log out.
And on a lighter note…
3M Privacy Filter:
The 3M Privacy Filter is for laptops, tablets and mobile phones. It is a print and outdoor advertising campaign developed at DDB Singapore, featuring specially designed collar, hoodie and hair. Maybe some of us will need to resort to methods like these soon, although it’s impracticability speaks for itself.
Krotoski argues that a social network’s success need not rely upon this direct link between online and offline identity. (Krotoski, 2012). As, in Japan, the three most popular social networks operate under pseudonyms at the discretion of the account holder. Therefore, anonymity does not really need to be a luxury for people today.
I do believe that our online identities are fragmented but this is because as individuals our character and personalities are made up of many different traits, passions and interests. Surely, it would be unreasonable for us to compile this into one online persona. Instead, it is more feasible to create different identities whilst maintaining a respectable reputation online.
In this age of growing public alarm over personal privacy, data security and the lack of transparency in the gathering of data by public and private organizations we must not allow it to withhold us from networking and sharing online, but it is still important to keep our ears on the ground.
Costa, C., & Torres, R. 2011. To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity
in the networked society. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, n.º extra, April 27, 47-53. http://eft.educom.pt.
Kiss, K. 2014. Worried about your privacy? Wait until the drones start talking you. The Guardian. Sunday 9 February.
Krotoski, A. 2012. Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?. The Guardian, Thursday 19 April.
Windley, Phillip J. 2005. Digital Identity. O’Reilly Media, Inc. pp. 8–9