With contrasting opinions on whether individuals should adopt multiple online identities, Facebook and 4Chan have created social media platforms that differ in the extent to which an individual can achieve anonymity. Whilst 4Chan users don’t even need to register an account to use the site, Facebook has constantly searched for ways to improve the authenticity of its users and their recent acquisition of Instagram highlights this (Krotoski 2012). The differing views of these two social media platforms has opened up a debate regarding the pros and cons of having more than one online identity.
Personally, I first became aware of the importance of my online identity during a talk in sixth form at school. The speaker came in and presented pictures of students in the year group that he had found through their social media accounts. Needless to say, the photos didn’t broadcast the students in the best of light and the talk enabled me to recognise the importance of maintaining control over my online professional appearance. However, is creating multiple online identities the best way to overcome the risk of your professional appearance being tarnished?
The video from Sophie’s blog post shown above highlights the pros and cons of having more than one online identity that takes into account both businesses and individuals.
Advantages of having multiple online identities
One of the main advantage of being able to adopt more than one online identity is that you are able to express your opinions on the internet without negative repercussions. This can therefore lead to more honest and open discussions about sensitive topics online.
In addition, Jarvis (2011) believed that one positive of adopting multiple online identities is that it allows an individual to present themselves differently depending on their audience. Whilst this will enable control of your professional appearance, does this approach lack transparency and integrity? Personally, I believe so, I feel that the key is to use the social networks in the best way possible that retains your personal privacy without compromising your professional opportunities. I hold the opinion that this can be achieved through use of extensive privacy settings available on social media platforms rather than through creating another identity.
Problems associated with multiple online identities
Easily disposable online identities that aid anonymity can be seen to facilitate bullying and perhaps the only way to combat this problem is to ensure than all of an individual’s actions online are attached to a single world identity (Clear 2014). Having more than one online identity means that accountability for online actions which is a significant negative aspect of encouraging the use of multiple online identities. With Hotmail accounts requiring telephone numbers, YouTube requiring a log in to watch videos and Facebook taking down accounts that aren’t tied to an offline name, it seems that many companies are pushing for this single world identity.
However, with more detailed profiles and identities online, is this facilitating the growing problem of identity theft around the world?
Olivia Handyside’s blog post mentions that the presence of Cookies and IP addresses suggests that complete anonymity can never be achieved online even with multiple identities. However, IP addresses can become insignificant if proxy servers are used which suggests that complete anonymity can likely be achieved. By being able to reduce your traceability online, it further highlights the fact that an individual can maintain their professional online profile without the need to create multiple identities.
For further information on how to increase your anonymity online, click here.
Krotoski, A. (2012). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity. Last accessed 25th Feb 2016.
Prindle, D. (2013). How to stay anonymous online. Available: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-to-be-anonymous-online/. Last accessed 25th Feb 2015.
Clear, M. (2014). Why should I reveal my ‘real identity’ online? Anonymity isn’t so terrible. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/15/reveal-real-identity-online-anonymity. Last accessed 25th Feb 2015.
Jarvis, J. (2011) One Identity or More? Available: http://buzzmachine.com/2011/03/08/one-identity-or-more/ . Last Accessed 25th Feb 2015
Images: Featured Image taken from (http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-to- be-anonymous-online/ )
Pros and Cons of multiple online identities taken from (https://www.haikudeck.com/multiple-online-identities-education-presentation-y8XXLox0g7)
Pitman, S. (2015). Topic 2 Multiple Identities. [Online Video]. 23 October. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umd3RBk-aIU. [Accessed: 25 February 2016].