There can be many reasons for and against having more than one online identity. Online identity is defined by Williams, Fleming, Lundquist and Parslow (2010) as “the persona a person projects across the internet”. Your online identity is made up of information and photos that you post yourself and also anything others mention or tag you in. A person’s online identity is becoming more important as an increasing number of employers are using social media to search potential future employees.
A reason for having multiple online identities is you can separate your personal life from your professional life. There are often posts or images on a person’s personal social media site that they would not want a future employer to see. Many employers judge potential employees on their social media and reject their application after seeing things which do not portray the person in the best way. Despite social media sites having personalised security settings many employers will still be able to view the basics of a person’s profile. Jarvis (2011) states “a 25-year-old student teacher was deprived of her diploma after posting a MySpace photo of herself drinking over the caption, “Drunken Pirate”.”. Even though this photo was taken outside her professional life certain people saw the photo and did not think it was appropriate. Social media users having more than one online identity means they can use one identity for friends and the other for potential employers to view. Many use an additional identity to advertise their businesses or work.
A reason for not having multiple online identities is that employers who view your professional online identity may think you are too serious and do not have the correct personality to work for them. Sometimes it is better for employers to see their employee can equally balance their personal and professional life. Another reason for not using more than one online identity is anonymous trolls (Jarvis, 2011). People use anonymous identities to bully others online, make comments about people and spread rumours. This makes it impossible for the person doing the bullying to be tracked down and stopped. Additionally a reason for not having multiple online identities is that some people abuse this and make identities with fake information and photos about themselves to chat to other people. This could be because they are not confident using their own photo as described by Peterson (2013). In more serious situations fake identities have been used for example, by middle aged men posing as teenagers to meet with real teenagers.
In my personal experience I have never had more than one online identity as I never thought I needed it. I make sure my social media is as private as it can be and untag or remove anything I do not want shown on my page. I would be happy for friends or any future employer to view my profile as I have made sure there is nothing inappropriate on it.
In this day and age it is very easy to find out information about someone or what they are like by their online identity.
- Bishop, A. (2013). Who is lurking?. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/98556138@N04/9392457953/in/photolist-4nac6n-7KGkGY-4xzcsx-2B8Ud3-dCMAW-ktewtD-5Z8iYz-bZKEsd-7KCo1r-pqY1V3-6RCmJV-9QToiA-br7293-61GSjV-aaDsW3-3rrGun-4XNaSP-66pBrv-5sWKsu-6STTUm-5Zpbcq-7cPXcF-fiYNwe-7C4pg1-5Zpbe9-aUzzK8-66pBeZ-7mCsNq-kkZTLP-bjMgFx-bjMgNk-bjMgdF-bjMgU6-bjMhkv-bjMgpK-bjMhf6-bjMgiX-bjMgZZ-bjMh8M-bjMhrR-bjMhxF-bjMhE6-bjMgv2-7BZxv8-7C4sto-7C4pPG-8e8WV8-br7qmL-57cAqJ-bzkxMJ
- Jarvis, J. (2011). One identity or more? BlogMachine. Retrieved from http://buzzmachine.com/2011/03/08/one-identity-or-more/
- Peterson, H. (2013). ‘Catfishing:’ The phenomenon of Internet scammers who fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into romantic relationships. Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2264053/Catfishing-The-phenomenon-Internet-scammers-fabricate-online-identities-entire-social-circles-trick-people-romantic-relationships.html
- Williams, S. A., Fleming, S.C., Lundquist, K. O., & Parslow, P. N. (2010). Understanding your digital identity. Learning Exchange, 1(1). Retrieved from http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/17011