Topic 2: Reflection

Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of having multiple online identities appeared to be simple at first glance but there were several new things that I learnt from my own research and seeing other people’s work.

Despite being someone that uses the internet daily, I was unaware that every website gathers information and uses it to form an online identity of you. Although it was something I was aware of with sites that I had to register to use, I thought it ended there. To find out that even search engines save our data was an almost shocking thought.

Aside from this, Madeleine’s blog post made me reconsider some of my rationales for having multiple online accounts. In my blog, I looked at the separation of the private and public online self from the perspective of an online user trying to split up their professional and private life. However, from reading this post, I was provoked to consider the other harmless reasons why people have private accounts, such as for celebrity fan accounts – often found on Twitter.

Alternatively, Callum’s post raised a key question of why we should be different online when we portray more than one identity offline. During my research, I continually came across articles that drew comparisons between life offline and online, which also moulded my opinion of them as two separate spheres, preserved by the creation of multiple online identities. But the question posed, and the subsequent discussion, triggered my thoughts of whether or not, especially for younger people, this divide will exist.

In some ways, online accounts may contribute to our ‘real life’ identities by giving us the freedom to express ourselves differently. This is a prospect that may not be measureable until we continue to watch the future ‘online generations’ progress.

Word Count: 297


Featured image: Self-produced

My comments

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.


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).


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).


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


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

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.

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]

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

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

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

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