Authenticity is a key argument made for the benefit of having just one identity. It stands to reason that if everything you post online can be easily attributed to you, this makes everything you post appear more trustworthy because it’s tied to your reputation and credibility, it’s also easier and less time consuming to manage just one identity, (Futurelearn, 2018).
However there are risks tied to having a single online identity, conflating the personal with the professional can damage your credibility and have real world repercussions. Ed Pilkington pointed out that when Justine Sacco posted a racist tweet on a twitter account that was tied to her as both a professional and a public figure, this damaged her career and reputation, (2013). Having multiple identities allows for different behaviours, as van Dijck discussed. Facebook as a platform encouraged users to express themselves whereas LinkedIn encouraged maintaining a purely professional tone, (van Dijck, 2013).
With the previous example we can see how online identity is multi-faceted. People will adjust their behaviour depending upon social settings, i.e. professional workspace versus public space like a coffee shop. This is true of online spaces as well, only the social rules are dictated by the digital platform rather than the physical social setting. I believe at the heart of the online identity is the dichotomy between anonymity versus authenticity, (Krotoski, 2012). As previously mentioned digital platforms determine which behaviour is permissible, but there is also the role of state governments to explore. In Countries where criticism of the state, or access to particular information online is restricted, it becomes important to hide one’s online identity in order to circumvent this (BBC, 2018). The debate around identities is expanded on in the video I created below.
Video source: (Dodd.R, 2018)
To conclude whilst it’s easier to maintain just one online identity, multiple identities are essential for expressing different facets of our self. Additionally anonymity remains an important option but one that is worryingly, “becoming quite the luxury”, (Costa, and Torres, 2011).
Word Count: 324
BBC Guides. (2018). What is the dark web and is it a threat?. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z9j6nbk [Accessed 23 Apr. 2018].
Costa, C. and Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. i2Cat Foundation, pp.47-53. [online] Available at: https://pure.strath.ac.uk/portal/files/21051777/digitalIdentity.pdf [Accessed 23 Apr. 2018]
FutureLearn. (2018). What is your network identity? – Learning in the Network Age – University of Southampton. [online] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age/4/steps/303357 [Accessed 23 Apr. 2018].
Krotoski, A. (2012). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity[Accessed 23 Apr. 2018].
Pilkington, E. (2013). Justine Sacco, PR executive fired over racist tweet, ‘ashamed’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/22/pr-exec-fired-racist-tweet-aids-africa-apology[Accessed 23 Apr. 2018].
van Dijck, J. (2013). ‘You have one identity’: performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn. Media, Culture & Society, 35(2), pp.199-215. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0163443712468605