Online identities is a topic I find particularly interesting as I’m basing my dissertation around it – but what actually is a digital identity? Costa and Torres described online identities as an activity centralised around “presentation and reputation” (2011). Suggesting that our online identities are managed representations of our true selves. An idea I think is interesting as we do this in real life too, acting differently in varying situations, for example using age appropriate language around children vs. using swear words around adults.
I believe one of the driving forces behind have multiple identities, or personas (The Internet Society, 2017), online is the attraction of anonymity (Krotoski, 2017). For example having a personal Facebook account that is your true identity, but also having an Instagram account that posts cute pictures of puppies. Both are versions of your online identity but only one is publicly attached to you. Although I can see the benefits of choosing to remain anonymous, as it allows you to remain in control of what parts of your identity are available online and also easily explore various aspects of your identity, i.e. your love of cute puppies. However I personally prefer to just have the one.
Krotoski (2017) raises an interesting point here by suggesting that having “multiple identities is lacking in integrity”. I agree with this statement as I think people who stick to presenting their true selves appear more trustworthy and authentic. I propose that a digital identity is formed on many social networking platforms, and each one’s purpose reveals appropriate aspects of ones identity. In my case this would be posting pictures of myself and friends on Instagram, updating statuses on Facebook for my friends to see and maintaining an up to date LinkedIn for potential employers to see. This is similar to the theory of fragmented digital identities (Costa & Torres, 2011), for example I wouldn’t necessarily want employers to see everything I post on Facebook, but the two profiles are still connected to my identity just with separate purposes and thus filtered content. It is easier to think of it as a network of your identity – a bit like a formation of a digital passport (O’Donnel, 2016).
This is something that can be seen in Fig 1. It is clear that both profiles are the same person and thus are portraying the same identity. However the LinkedIn profile focuses less on my personal life and more on my professional work and education history, whereas the Instagram one is very much centralised around my personal life. Personally I prefer to stick to the one online identity, but I can understand the perks of having multiple personas for privacy and anonymity.
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Krotoski, A. Online identity: Is authenticity or anonymity more important? Guardian. Accessed 21.02.2017. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity
O’Donnell, B. The Digital Identity Dilemma. August 10, 2016. Recode. Accessed 22.02.17. http://www.recode.net/2016/8/10/12413592/digital-identity-virtual-id-card-fido-web-api
The Internet Society. Manage your Identity. Accessed 22.02.17. http://www.internetsociety.org/manage-your-identity