Digital identity can be considered in two parts, firstly by presentation – i.e. how we choose to present ourselves and our ideas online – and secondly by reputation – i.e. how others interpret our online presence (Costa, Torres, 2011). In this article I aim to consider what type of digital portfolio is better for an individual in the online world from both a professional and personal perspective in terms of the ‘reputation’ aspect of Digital Identity, I will be arguing that multiple identities is better placed than a single identity.
It is important for any given individual to consider their online presence from a perspective of how it will be received both from a professional perspective (by employers, colleagues, potential clients, etc), and from a personal perspective (by friends, family, online communities, etc). For purposes of simplicity it could be argued that a single identity could be advantageous as it is easier to keep track of and to remember logins on multiple sites, particularly as in the cases of Facebook and Google, accounts can be used to login to other sites. However this poses serious online security risks, more associated accounts means that more information about a person is quickly accessible, and the compromising of one account potentially compromises multiple accounts (Bishop, 2013).
A multi-identity system using several different accounts avoids this particular problem as different accounts may not necessarily be traceable back to each other, it also allows for the separation of personal information, professional information and anonymous information.
A further advantage to multiple identities arises from the threat to job security posed by personal social media use. If you engage in debates and take positions that the company does not wish to associate itself with, make insensitive jokes or have pictures/videos of nights out easily accessible to employers, they could lead to losing a job or not being offered a job. As is considered in the book “So you’ve been publicly shamed”, Justine Sacco is an individual who lost her job due to such issues; where as if she had held accounts with different or perhaps anonymous identities, she potentially could have avoided this leading to her losing her job (Ronson, 2015). The video below explains this from 3:20-5:19.
In conclusion, the risks to a single public identity seem too great, whereas to an individual the advantage of anonymity and alternative identities seem too majorly beneficial to be ignored.
Costa, C. and Torres, R. “To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society” (2011) (Accessed on 23 February 2017).
Ronson, Jon. “Jon Ronson When Online Shaming Goes Too Far“. (2015) (Accessed 23 February 2017).
Ronson, Jon. “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”. 1st ed. Riverhead Books, 2015.
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