Topic 2: Online Identities

The internet has become an indispensable facet of daily life, especially in the last decade. This has led to web users, whether consciously or unconsciously, creating what are called online identities.

WHAT IS AN ONLINE IDENTITY?

As a whole, your identity sums up all of the characteristics (i.e. hometown, date of birth etc.) that make you who you are. When you’re online, every website that you visit gathers some information about your identity and your interactions which comprise your online identity (Internet Society).

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE MULTIPLE ONLINE IDENTITIES?

Websites can require different information and be used differently (e.g. interactions on Tumblr may not be the same as interactions on LinkedIn), so no one online identity can fully represent a person. The information on these websites reflect an aspect of your full identity, creating several partial identities that are called personas.

Marwick (2005) defines online identity as creating a separation between our lives online and our ‘real life’ that we carry out offline. However, since the internet has become so pervasive, in exploring the benefits and drawbacks of having multiple identities, it may be more beneficial to look at the difference between our “private online self versus the public online self” (Gannes, 2011).

new-piktochart_20545168_189c01db1d8481be9de4970b96feff44ed41d4b1

Figure 2: Visual representation of the public online self vs. the private online self 

As touched on in Topic 1, the context in which we are using the internet, perhaps as a ‘visitor’ or ‘resident’ (White and Cornu, 2011) can determine how many online identities we have, if any at all. Beyond exploring its purpose, is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of having more than one online identity.

I think having more than one online identity is necessary, especially to separate my professional and personal life on the web. Once again, context is key in determining whether having more than one digital identity is positive or negative. For example, a young internet user (i.e. in primary school) having several online identities for both personal and professional/educational purposes may not be as positive as a university student having the same number of personas online. The internet is frequently used for educational purposes, whereby young people make accounts on online learning sites, which as we’ve learnt will store their information and interactions. Younger internet users may not know the risks of their information being spread so vastly on the internet, which is a contextual point that should be considered in determining the benefits of having multiple online identities.

Word Count: 400

References

Casserly, M. (2011, January 26). Multiple Personalities And Social Media: The Many Faces of Me. Forbes [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2011/01/26/multiple-personalities-and-social-media-the-many-faces-of-me/#3db7d5ac6d51

Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, 47-53.

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

Gannes, L. (2011, January 1). The Social Web’s Big New Theme for 2011: Multiple Identities for Everyone!. All Things D [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

http://allthingsd.com/20110101/the-social-webs-big-new-theme-for-2011-multiple-identities-for-everyone/

Marwick, A. E. (2005). Selling your self: Online identity in the age of a commodified internet (Doctoral dissertation, University of Washington)

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alice_Marwick/publication/267954410_Selling_Your_Self_Online_Identity_in_the_Age_of_a_Commodified_Internet/links/57b2358d08ae0101f17a5bfd.pdf

Online Identity Overview: Internet Society [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

http://www.internetsociety.org/online-identity-overview#overlay-context

Krotoski, A. (2012, April 19). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? Guardian. [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

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

White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday16(9). [Accessed: 10 February 2017]

http://firstmonday.org/article/view/3171/3049%20https://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~tefko/Courses/Zadar/Readings/Selwyn%20dig%20natives,%20Aslib%20Proceedings%202009.pdf

[CNN] (2015, April 16) Online identity victim: Digital thief stole my face [Video File]. [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

Featured image, Figure 2 & Presentation: Self-produced

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6 thoughts on “Topic 2: Online Identities

  1. Hi Louise,

    I found your blog very engaging especially as your opening question urged me to read further. The structure of your blog really complimented the way you wrote about having multiple online identities as I feel that it helped you transition easily into talking about the pros and cons of this.

    Also, whilst I do agree with all the advantages and disadvantages you mention, to what extent do you feel that cyber-bullying outweighs them all and is influenced by the anonymity of having multiple online identities? For instance, with the younger generation so exposed to the internet do you feel that they are more likely to be victims of cyber bullying? I found an interesting article that speaks about this http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2014/03/anonymous-social-networking

    I also found it interesting that you touched upon exploring differences between our private and public online self.There is no doubt that social media has become a huge part of our lives where many of us use it as a form of self expression. In what ways would you say that your private and public online self differ?

    Thanks for a great read!

    Carolina

    Like

    1. Hi Carolina,
      Thanks very much for your feedback on my post, I hope you found it helpful.
      With regards to the issue of cyber-bullying, I agree that it’s a huge problem and in my opinion, would surpass identity theft as in issue in terms of dangerous users. I say this because some of the effects that it has on people (i.e. depression, body dysmorphia) can be irreversible, especially amongst young people and in turn can affect them in their day-to-day lives. However, I feel that authorities (i.e. the police) have facilitated identity theft as more of an issue so there’s more understanding and support to deal with it.
      For me, the main difference between my public and private online self is the type of information I’m willing to put out. On my Skype account for example, I would put my full name but on my YouTube account I wouldn’t.
      I would love to hear your thoughts as well.
      Thanks again
      Louise

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Louise,

        I 100% agree with your views on this. The impact that cyber-bullying has goes very hand in hand with identity theft due to the fact that it can influence negativity such as trolling and catfishing where cyber-bullying is more likely to take place. In regards to the authorities, I do feel that although the police do take it seriously, tighter regulation and implementation of privacy laws should be stricter to prevent identity theft. However, users should still be careful with the amount of personal information they put out there.

        Carolina

        Liked by 1 person

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