Online Identity: Are you who you say you are?

Are you the same person online as you are offline?

We live in an era where social media has seamlessly integrated into our everyday lives, thus we have become the ‘internet generation’.

Figure 1: Online vs Offline self

There is no doubt that the emergence of the web has had a massive impact on the way people connect, interact and share information with one another (Costa & Torres, 2011). As a result, having a ‘digital identity’ and being able to manage it carefully has become significantly more important as online activity increases. With our information being so easily accessible, I think it is important for people to handle their digital presence in a shrewd manner.

To show how I portray myself on different types of social media, I have produced a presentation using Canva to highlight my my-digital-footprints.

Should we have more than one online identity?

The idea of having multiple online identities is not an unfamiliar concept. Considering last week’s topic, digital residents are more likely to have multiple online personas that fit in with the different platforms they use. Whilst, digital visitors will also have multiple online identities via third party websites who collect identifiers.

According to Internet Society (2016), we represent different characteristics between our online and real-world identities. More and more people are creating different social media accounts and posting different aspects of their social life which shape their identity. However, whilst there are some people who use it for recreational purposes, 60% of employers (CareerBuilder,2017), now more than ever, use social media for recruitment.

With this in mind, it can take a single post to put your career at jeopardy (an example which can be seen here) and so perhaps it forces people to form a separate online identity from that of work and social purposes. Therefore, Cranor et al (1999) emphasises the fact that being able to manage ‘our public and private spaces online is a skill which should no longer be disregarded or undervalued.’

Following this, watch my video highlighting pros and cons of having multiple online identities.

Krotoski (2012), explores the idea that the anonymity behind multiple online identities may be an ageing concept. Although having multiple online identities may allow us to manage different aspects of our personas, there are various online communities that disagree with this concept.

Whilst I don’t disprove of having multiple online identities, I do believe that the intentions behind them should be questioned so as to prevent cases of trolling/cyber bullying that may come from anonymous or pseudonymous users (Frith, 2015). Therefore, strict regulation should occur so as to keep the authenticity of social media sites like Facebook.

(436 words)

 

References

CareerBuilder (2017) Number of employers using social media to screen candidates has increased 500 percent over the last decade. Available at: http://www.careerbuilder.co.uk/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=4%2F28%2F2016&id=pr945&ed=12%2F31%2F2016 (Accessed: 25 February 2017).

 Costa, C. and Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Revista Educacao, Formacao & Technologias. [online] Available at: http://eft.educom.pt/index.php/eft/article/view/216/126 [Accessed 24 Feb. 2017].

Cranor, L., Reagle, J., & Ackerman, M. (1999). Beyond Concern: Understanding Net Users’ Attitudes about Online Privacy. In The Internet upheaval: raising questions, seeking answers in communications policy. MIT Press.

Frith, J. (2015) ‘Anonymity, pseudonymity, and the agency of online identity: Examining the social practices of r/Gonewild’, First Monday, 20(3).

Krotoski, A. 2012, Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?, [Online], Available: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity [Accessed 2017, February 25].

Pilkington, E. (2016) Justine Sacco, PR executive fired over racist tweet, ‘ashamed’. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/22/pr-exec-fired-racist-tweet-aids-africa-apology (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

Qian, H., & Scott, C. R. (2007). Anonymity and self‐disclosure on weblogs. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1428-1451.

Figure References

Figure 1: Online vs. Offline Self: Who is the Real You?, [Online], 2016, Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZAkZ4TzSEA [accessed 2017, February 25].

 

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15 thoughts on “Online Identity: Are you who you say you are?

  1. Hi Carolina,

    I found your post very enjoyable to read. The PowToon video in particular provided a clear and concise insight into the discussion.

    I notice you included a slideshow about your digital footprints, mainly on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. In my post, I too mention how I use different social media platforms for different purposes and therefore tailor my content to suit the audiences. Have you considered other ways in which we leave digital footprints, even without actively sharing information? For example, when we search the web for something or shop online. The video linked below makes a clear case as to why we should care more about our digital footprints.

    From your perspective, do you think collecting data through digital footprints is necessary and important e.g., for targeted advertising? Or do you think internet users should do more to protect their privacy and control their digital footprints? I would love to hear your thoughts!

    Thanks,
    Patricia

    Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro_LlRg8rGg (Internet Society)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Patricia,
      Thank you for feedback! I am glad that you have enjoyed my post and that my PowToon video was an effective tool for you to engage with the topic. I will continue to include more self-produced visuals into my future posts so as to provide readers with an efficient way of interactive learning.

      Having watched the attached video, it made me realise that it is not just by creating different social media accounts that our digital footprints are left behind on the web. It was interesting to hear that even when we browse through search engines like Google we are leaving behind traces of our digital footprints- which I never really thought of in the first place. To answer your question, I would say that another way we leave digital footprints is through e-commerce websites like Amazon where they form your identity based through the products you buy.

      Also, whilst I can appreciate that collecting data through our digital footprints can help companies target content at specific markets and consumers, it does get annoying when I am scrolling through Facebook and I see continuous adverts of an item of clothing I may have only looked at once! As mentioned in my post, I do feel that it is important that people are more in control of what they post as it is very easy for someone like an employer to look into your background and find something you may not intend for them to see.

      However, I also feel that more of a conscious effort should be made of implementing privacy and protection laws to protect the information of digital users. I have found an interesting article that talks about protecting your digital footprints: https://www.channel4.com/news/online-data-nsa-prism-google-facebook-protect-spying

      Thank you again for reading!
      Carolina

      Like

      1. Hi Carolina,

        Thank you for your reply!

        I’m glad I brought your attention to this issue because it’s something I hadn’t fully considered either. I agree that although there are clearly marketing benefits behind targeted advertising, the personalised adverts are most of the time not helpful to me. Another case where this kind of web tracking may be an issue is where I have searched for something on behalf of someone else. Furthermore, for families that use a shared computer, it could pose some problems if a particular family member’s online activity is tied to another family member’s name and consequently their digital footprint.

        The article you shared was an interesting read and further reinforces that fact that we should be more aware of our digital footprints. With the direction the digital world is going, I think that managing online privacy should be taught more explicitly in schools.

        If you are interesed, I came across a search engine called DuckDuckGo that does not track you or store any personal information (https://duckduckgo.com). This could be just the solution to our Facebook ad problem!

        Patricia

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Patricia,

        Thanks for that. I had no idea a search engine like DuckDuckGo existed and it is really interesting to see that there is a search engine which offers (to a certain extent) private browsing.

        Carolina

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Carolina,

    Thank you for your post for this topic. It was an enjoyable critical read, easy to read though. Furthermore, by referring to some interesting writings that I was previously unaware of, you made use of various visuals which built up on the points that you made.
    Personally, I found the case of the IAC employee really intriguing. This made me follow up the subject, which led me to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWJbS9OcvtU. It made me ask you the following things. You gave an example of how social media can impact your career in a negative way. Do you think that it can work the other way around too? Also, you mentioned that you keep several of your social media accounts on private mode. Would you consider linking your CV with any of your social media accounts, making your personal brand more visible? Looking forward for you answers!

    Best,
    Andrei
    (150 words)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Andrei,
      Thank you for your kind comments.

      With regards to your question, I do believe that social media can work to someone’s advantage just as long as they have managed their digital identity in a positive way! For example, Zoella is recognised as one the UK’s most influential female bloggers, where she has been able to use her online persona to grow her personal brand. This is evident through her multiple online identities such as her YouTube account which alone has over 11 million subscribers and her Twitter account 7.63m followers.

      Having watched the video, you linked above, I 100% agree that our digital footprints should be able to showcase your personal brand to potential employers. However, with that being said I still believe that the only social media account I would link my CV with is LinkedIn. This is because I consider it as an extension of my CV and it is the best way to extend your virtual network. What are your thoughts on this?

      Thanks again,
      Carolina

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi again Carolina,
        I consider that social media can definitely be used in someone’s favour in order to improve the personal brand. At the moment, I have my LinkedIn account linked with my CV too. I’m happy to do this as I give the employers a chance to find out more things about myself, that could not be fitted on the CV.
        I also think that Twitter can be used in a professional manner, especially if you are an influencer, so I try to keep my account on this platform as professional as possible. I also added in the caption ‘Views are my own’, so I do not give people a chance to misinterpret my tweets, in relation to the organisations that I am a part of.
        Thanks again for you post! Really looking forward for the next ones!

        Andrei

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Carolina,

    This was a very enjoyable post to read since you have referenced points you’ve made with your own online presence and how that has changed after beginning this module. I agree that we need to take control of our online identity and broaden it to strengthen our ‘brand’ and make ourselves credible when interacting online, whilst keeping in mind the audience that it reaches.

    Although at the end of your post you say you cannot disprove the idea of having multiple identities, would you agree that there is still a place for this even if it is becoming less prominent? Since many people are trying to extend their online identity, what happens if they want to voice an unpopular opinion? Take for instance political views, if the majority does not agree then there could be negative repercussions on that individual.

    Let me know your thoughts on this.

    Ollie

    (150 words)

    Like

  4. Hi Ollie,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

    I do believe that having multiple identities is something that is becoming increasingly common in this age. Especially as we agree on the fact that social media can have such a massive impact on increasing your brand, so establishing an online presence across the web is important for the right reasons.

    Furthermore, I am not against the idea of people expressing their political views on online forums because these are controversies that influence everyone and should be discussed. However, with that being said, I do not agree with people having to hide behind a false identity to express how they feel because it is their opinion and everyone is entitled to one right? But at the same time, if one is to participate on such public discussions, I think a conscious effort should be made with the way they put their feelings across so as to prevent from being ‘attacked’ online.

    Carolina

    Like

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