Topic 2- Online Identity and Privacy

A survey conducted in September 2014 highlighted key findings, stating that multi-platform use is rising. “52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites” (Duggan et al 2015). With Facebook still being the most popular use of social media (figure 2.1), many people are now branching out into other social media, perhaps for other social or professional purposes. This same survey for instance states that “the share of internet users with college educations using LinkedIn reached 50%” (Duggan et al 2015). Social networking services such as LinkedIn is rising with users, which could be a possible reason for the slow growth of Facebook.

Figure 2.1

Figure 2.1

Firstly, having more than one online identity provides a layer of privacy. Though I, for instance have a Facebook and Twitter account that people know of, I also have a YouTube account, using this mostly to watch and comment on videos. Since I have no subscribers, and my YouTube name isn’t my real name, I can be seen as an anonymous user. I am therefore an active participant in the YouTube community without fear that my professional portfolio or career will be impacted.

A second benefit is that people can have control over professional appearance. Some elements of one’s personal identity may differ from a professional identity for the purpose of controlling who sees what. A prime example would be the informal and formal differences of Facebook and LinkedIn respectively. My professional updates on LinkedIn i.e. a profile specifically for experience and education, will not need to be on a personal platform. Likewise professional profiles will not see irrelevant detail about my personal life i.e. holiday pictures.

A disadvantage however of having more than one online identity is that it will require you to maintain separate accounts on different websites, which essentially doubles the amount of work into maintaining an online presence. I personally find myself having many tabs open on my laptop because of this, due to the mixtures in keeping in touch with friends and using professional pages and portfolios to help look for jobs and market myself.

Overall I think the benefits of multiple online identities outweigh the limitations if used for correct purposes, as the internet allows for many opportunities both in the social and networking sense. Who is to say you can’t also find valuable people on personal platforms like Facebook and Twitter?

References

. 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://balticlogic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Managing-Your-Digital-Identity.gif. [Accessed 17 February 2015].

Should I Keep My Personal and Professional Identities Completely Separate Online?. 2015. Should I Keep My Personal and Professional Identities Completely Separate Online?. [ONLINE] Available at:http://lifehacker.com/5898370/should-i-keep-my-personal-and-professional-identities-completely-separate-online. [Accessed 17 February 2015].

Social Media Site Usage 2014 | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. 2015. Social Media Site Usage 2014 | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/. [Accessed 17 February 2015].

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7 comments

  1. A very factual and micro-level discussion on the pros and cons of having multiple online identities. I particularly like the YouTube example where you refer to the anonymising of the account. I too have a YouTube account which has some fan-made compilation videos of some of my favourite bands. Some of the videos have many views and I don’t particularly want my name out there to the masses. Which is why I made an ambiguous user name.

    Adding to your point on hiding more personal information from your employers (like holiday pictures), there is a brilliant article on LinkedIn, written by Bernard Marr on separating work life from private life, when your boss adds you on Facebook…

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140512134052-64875646-when-your-boss-wants-to-be-friends-on-facebook

    I remember aged 17 being asked to add my boss on Facebook so ‘work updates’ and shifts could be arranged easily. A sneaky way to inspect us and make sure we’re behaving?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. very interesting article Andrew, i certainly wouldn’t know how to react if my boss was to add me! the degree of “being myself” would definitely diminish as I’m sure you felt when your boss added you to keep you up with so-called “work updates”.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading your blog; it brought to light many of your own experiences and views on the topic.

    I agree that multiple identities have numerous benefits, including a basis for creativity and privacy. However, as you point out, this is only the case if these identities are created and used positively. Therefore, do you think that encouraging multiple identities is also promoting an irresponsible and untrustworthy environment, whereby cyber bullying can take place as a faceless crime? With this in mind, how can we trust others if, through multiple ‘false’ identities, we ourselves aren’t being honest?

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    1. Well I feel as though with the many benefits of having multiple identities (i.e. Networking, efficient communication) there comes some complications and disadvantages as you mentioned- cyber bullying. This has particularly happened across social media websites such as Facebook, where people practically hide behind their screens posed as a different person, and say really mean things. For this reason of cyber bully, we can’t completely trust others however this all depends on what one goes onto the web to do if we talk about “identity”.

      Secondly, I wouldn’t personally say that I’m being dishonest through multiple identities as they all do represent who I am. Therefore as far as “false” goes, this all depends on the user, of course.

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