How many identities do you have?

Some individuals enjoy the benefits of a strong online identity whilst others worry about the information that may be publicly available. Our online identities however are based on information that we have provided through social media, our browsing history and information that we have given out through online forms. This identity may not reflect the characteristics that we may have in real life.

With the world moving online it is very unlikely for an individual not to have any form of online presence. The most visible identity is that from social media platforms and information that we purposefully make available on the Internet. Thomas (2007) looks in detail at the way in which youths build their identities online and discovers large variances between different backgrounds and as such an online identity may not give an accurate impression of an individuals real-world character. This is something that should be considered strongly when an online identity is defined as the sum of your characteristics.

With over 37% of US employers screening candidates with the use social media sites, for instance Facebook and Twitter, it’s becoming ever more important to create the right impression. As a consequence there’s been a significant rise in the number of dual online identities. This is where an individual will create several accounts to deliver differing content for certain groups to see. On the other hand, sites such as Path and LinkedIn are aimed a creating a professional social environment. This doesn’t mean that employers won’t look at sites such as Facebook however professional profiles can help to form a positive opinion. These sites however are an invaluable tool for communication and although are important for our online identity they can also help to boost our sense of self esteem as found by Barker (2009).

There is however a second form of online identity and this is created with the use of cookies and browsing history. Companies like Amazon collect the data of customers which allows them to build a profile. This profile can then used for targeted advertising to show consumers products in which they are more likely to show an interest. Although this may not be readily available it still creates a form of online identity which should not be ignored.

In conclusion, how we appear online is dependant on the information which we make available from which people may form an opinion and how they interpret it. No two people are identical and unlike in society we can easily create multiple identities for ourselves and this is illustrated more clearly in the infographic below.

img_4914

Inform created using Piktochart

Other sources used:

Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? By Aleks Krotoski

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity

To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society

http://eft.educom.pt/index.php/eft/article/view/216/126

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2 Comments

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  1. Your blog was an interesting read and the graphics provided were really engaging.

    I was particularly interested in your point about cookies allowing companies to target ads for you. An article regarding this that you may find interesting is https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/sep/24/online-offline-personality-digital-identity which explains a similar concept of digital footprints. It was suggesting that algorithms predict what you will watch, listen to, and why. This can be seen as a positive of your digital identity, as websites can be tailored towards your interests.

    With the knowledge of employers searching for your online platforms, has this led you to make any changes to your identities portrayed by social media?
    When researching this topic myself, I began to re-evaluate and change my online presence. Through doing this, would it be considered to limit my online authenticity, as I have tweaked my online identity to appear in a manner that makes me more desirable for employers?

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    • Hi Claire,

      Thanks for sharing that article with me. It made a really interesting read.
      I personally do not think that I have made any large changes to my social media profiles in regards to making them look more beseeching however, I do continually review my timelines and privacy settings to ensure that there is nothing online that I wouldn’t want to be seen.
      I have just looked at my profiles again and there is definitely a slight difference between the information available on Facebook and LinkedIn although the information on Facebook is only available to certain people.

      Like

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