Blogpost 3 – Reasons for and against having more than one online identity

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.

(Bishop, 2013)

(Bishop, 2013)

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.



2 thoughts on “Blogpost 3 – Reasons for and against having more than one online identity

  1. I hadn’t heard of the case of the 25 year old student teacher before reading your blog. I am very split in my opinion on this matter. Part of me thinks that was unjust because the picture was taken outside of her professional life and I don’t think it was very fair that she should be judged so harshly when I’m sure there are thousands, perhaps millions, of people in her situation that do relax outside of work albeit this does not affect her teaching. However, I do realise that this could portray the teaching profession in an undesirable light. Even if the student had been out consuming alcohol and taking pictures, these should not be made available for anybody to see. In this day in age when it is so easy to change privacy settings on profiles, the student should have made certain that the information employers could see is that of a better nature.


  2. I agree that having one online identity is absolutely fine and it can be a good thing that future employers get to the balance of someones personal and professional life. however I do think that its not necessarily a bad thing to be extra cautious and maybe having different social media sites, one for pleasure and one for work is a good idea. The example you gave of a student teacher not being allowed to continue because of a photo and caption, scares me. although you can remove the photo/untag yourself, it is never fully gone as this is out with your control.


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