TOPIC 2: Having Multiple Online Identities?

WHAT IS ONLINE IDENTITY?

Online identity is an identity that Internet user constructs and establishes, the image they present to others online and it shows people who you are and what you do.

Nowadays, individuals are a lot easier to be exposed to others and it is difficult for individuals to stay anonymous online. Most of the time, when you wanted to use some of the services online (eg. online shopping, commenting on a blog post), there are always needs to register. Any presentation online could leads to the construction of your online identity.

SO, IS IT OKAY TO HAVE MULTIPLE ONLINE IDENTITIES?

multiple
A hand-drawn mind map showing the reasons for and against having more than one online identity.

NO WAY!!!!! 
It is important to be trustworthy and reliable online. Having different online identities might seems that others cannot see and perceive the real you. Being consistent on different online platform would be more reliable. By having just one identity online, you are presenting a more holistic image of yourself to others.  Here’s a short video about presenting the real you online.



SURE! WHY NOT?
As social media is becoming more and more important, not only do they have an impact on our private and social relationship with people, but also job opportunities or professional fields. Therefore, by having more than one identity, we can then separate our private life with our professional image. I wouldn’t say this is deceiving others since everyone have different life roles and having them separated rather than combining them as a whole seems to be more beneficial to individuals. There are different expectations or tasks for different life roles, having them separated from each other might means that ones can achieve certain goals in a more effective way.

Having privacy on the Internet is important too. Have you ever noticed that when you go on YouTube or Google, there will be some adverts on the site and those adverts are usually related to something that you have looked at recently. It’s seems a bit creepy because its feels like the web is spying on you and know what you have been doing. However, this is in fact true, the web do know every little thing that you have done on the Internet because of the digital footprint left behind. A more serious concern is to prevent identity thieves and criminal impersonators. In order to protect ourselves, having more than one identity doesn’t seems to be such a bad thing.  Here is another short video on protecting your online identity.



MY THOUGHTS.
I think it is acceptable to have multiple online identities, as long as it is not too extreme (ie. Having different email accounts and user names for everything you do online). It also depends on the intention of doing so.   For me personally, I have more than one email account. One is the university account, which I will only use for in relation to my university work. I use my other two email accounts for different purposes. If I am signing up for something online which is not that important I will use my yahoo email. But if I am registering for anything that are more private or money-related, then I will use the other one. However, I will try to avoid having too many user names and email accounts since that could be difficult for myself to actually maintain and manage. If someone uses different identities for privacy and security purposes, then I think its fine. However, if someone uses multiple identities to hide something about themselves from others, or to deceive someone, then I think this is not the right move.

Having different online identities refers to presenting different persona on different platforms to different audiences for different purposes. All these digital identities are still reflecting the real you, they are just different parts of you.


References:

Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias-ISSN 1646-933X, 47-53. http://eft.educom.pt.

Gannes, L. (2011). The Social Web’s Big New Theme for 2011: Multiple Identities for Everyone. All things D. [Online] Available at: http://allthingsd.com/20110101/the-social-webs-big-new-theme-for-2011-multiple-identities-for-everyone/ [Accessed: 19th February 2015]

Krotoski, A. (2012). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? [Online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity [Accessed 20th February 2015]

 Nanton, N., & Dicks, JW. (2014). 4 big ideas on how to manage your online persona. [Online] Available at: http://www.fastcompany.com/3026514/work-smart/4-big-ideas-on-how-to-manage-your-online-image [Accessed 20th February 2015]

Four Reasons to Care About Your Digital Footprint. [YouTube] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA6aiFeMQZ0 [Accessed 20th February 2015]

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7 thoughts on “TOPIC 2: Having Multiple Online Identities?

  1. Hi Cheuk,

    I really liked how you balanced the positives and negatives of having multiple online identities before concluding with your own thoughts. I also thought it your use of videos and hand drawn thoughts included within the text was really effective.

    Maybe it’s because I’m becoming more wary of the internet’s power over collecting and sharing personal information (even more so since beginning this module!) but I think it’s more essential for people to be responsible on the internet (by managing their presentation, reputation and most importantly personal security) than being ‘trustworthy’ or ‘reliable’, as you said.

    You mentioned in your last point that you thought ‘it is acceptable to have multiple online identities’ – which I completely agree with. However, I was wondering what your thoughts were on internet anonymity? When someone doesn’t have an online persona but still uses the internet?

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    1. Hi Sarah Thank you for your comment.
      I think it is necessary to have the opportunity to be anonymous online, especially for someone who are shy and worry about expressing themselves in front of others. Being anonymous can give them an opportunity to express their thoughts and share their creativity online while protecting themselves. However, it is important that people understand the potential consequences for being anonymous online, that they might hurt others in some way. Since people think they can say whatever they want on the Internet, sometimes their comments can be harmful to others. Therefore, people have to be careful about what they put on the Internet even if they are anonymous.

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  2. Hi Cheuk,

    I liked your balanced view between the benefits and dangers of having separate online identities; you highlight ‘intention’ as being critical in assessing whether having different identities is appropriate.

    I totally agree – the thing I struggle with is who judges someone’s intentions?

    For example, is creating a false identity wrong to safely download a song using P2P software? Is it wrong to hide your identity if you live in a repressive state? Both are breaking the law; but I suspect our little community will judge one, if not both of these, as legitimate.

    This may seem an abstract issue – but as many countries are considering laws to protect privacy, it is gradually becoming more pertinent.

    So I have a two party question; a) how should we judge intent? b) If we can’t define intent (I can’t) then is it legitimate to enshrine our right to online privacy in law?

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  3. Thank you for your comment.
    I think there is no one other than ourselves can judge ones intention of using the Internet. Be truthful to self and ask whether it is the right way to use the Internet with these fake identities or to use it anonymously. It really does depend on what ones think its right or wrong. To me, I think the fine line would be whether or not I am hurting others in some way when being anonymous. For example, leaving racist comments on someone blog post? That would be a NO since this could bring negative psychological impacts to them (emotional damage, or even suicide). If what we have done affected others in a bad way, then in this case I think it is not right to have anonymity.
    I do agree the introduction of law enforcement, but not against anonymity, instead, it should focus on prohibiting others from getting hurt (psychologically). I think it should be use when ones action (eg. publishing insulting materials to defame others) is actually harming or hurting others in a destructive way.

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