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Many people choose to have multiple online identities to separate their personal and professional life. This can have different effects on a person’s career. A profession in which a lot of people choose to have more than one online identity is teaching. This is to prevent children or parents viewing a teacher’s profile online. To stop themselves being found online many teachers choose to change their name or create a different social media. The General Teaching Council for Scotland (2014), states teachers should be careful of their behaviour when using social media and be professional at all times.
A benefit of having more than one online identity is to avoid an employer viewing posts or pictures on social media which could affect your career. When applying for a new job, it is becoming more common for employers to check a future employee’s social media before employing them. This is to check in case there are posts or photos on the social media which are inappropriate or show the employee negatively. The effects of social media can be very serious for a person’s career. Jarvis (2011) stated “a 25 year-old student teacher was deprived of her diploma after posting a Myspace photo of herself drinking under the caption, “Drunken Pirate”.” As it is unlikely that all teachers will avoid using social media, many choose to change their privacy settings or create more than one identity.
Another reason for having more than one online identity is to use social media to advertise a person’s business or share information to a wide audience. This is kept separate from their own social media which is used with friends and family. University lecturers, for example, often use social media to communicate with students and other professionals. Also Freeman (2014) states social media helps a business find new customers through current customers liking posts on the page. It is a great way to spread information but the owner of the business would more than likely want to keep their personal social media separate.
On the other hand a reason for not having more than one online identity is each profile does not give a true portrayal of the person. Each identity will show a different part of the person whether this is their professional side or more of their personality. Therefore a potential employer viewing an employee’s profile may think the person does not have the correct personality for the job as they are only seeing one aspect.
An additional reason given by Jarvis (2011), for not using multiple online identities is to prevent online bullying. People use anonymous identities to bully others from behind a keyboard. This can make it impossible for the bully to be tracked down and stopped. Additionally, this can also be the case when people make identities with false information or images to deceive other people. Peterson (2013) looks at this and claims it may be due to low confidence in themselves. In serious cases, false identities have been used by middle aged men posing as teenagers to chat to others.
Overall, having more than one online identity can have positives and negatives. To determine if it is a benefit or not people need to look closely into what line of work they are in and if it would help them.
- Freeman, A. (2014). Advantages of Social Networking Promoting a Business. Small Business – Chron.com Retrieved 21 December 2014, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-social-networking-promoting-business-21990.html
- General Teaching Council for Scotland, (2014). Code of Professionalism and Conduct (COPAC) | General Teaching Council for Scotland. Retrieved 6 December 2014, from http://www.gtcs.org.uk/standards/copac.aspx
- 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