Over the last decade or two, the internet has quickly become the place for people to socialise, increasing the need to create a permanent identity online. On social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, you can choose who to ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ but how do you know these profiles represent who they are meant to?
Many companies and websites are expanding on the idea of having one all inclusive identity, where it is becoming more prevalent to find an account sign up similar to that on the right.
There are advantages to having one online identity, people on the internet are confident that you are who you claim to be. This is especially useful if you are well known or part of multiple communities, where checking credibility benefits those linked to your accounts and the information you provide is reliable to those who want to use it (Costa and Torres, 2011). Additionally, with an ever increasing amount of platforms to join and create profiles for, it becomes easier to access all of them.
For those who are not very security conscious this can result in a vulnerability whereby someone would be able to hack into one account and have access to the rest, as well as your personal information and possibly more. So what if you have many accounts with differing pseudonyms?
This type of approach would allow users to be able to freely express themselves in many differing communities or even open up the discussion on controversial topics, since they get to hide their ‘true identity’. In the 1948 presidential election, a silent majority felt pressured to speak out in polls, so didn’t.
However, the liberty to be able to speak freely would equally bring out the worst in people, through trolling and even spreading hate.
Above is a brief description of the extremes on the scale of online identities, anonymity and identity. The key word here being ‘scale’, I don’t believe that either extreme would be most beneficial, people will want a mixture of both. Having said that, I lean more towards having multiple identities since it will allow an environment of free discussion as well as keeping online identities separate, mainly for personal and professional uses, and will make it harder to gather information about you (Johnson, G., 2010).
Here is a link to a 30 minute conference on this discussion of anonymity vs. identity.
Costa, C. and Torres, R. “To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society” (2011) (Accessed on 20 February 2017)
Cunningham, L. “Harry Truman and the biggest polling error in presidential election history” (2016) (Accessed on 23 February 2017)
Johnson, G. “The Impact of Anonymity on Internet Safety, Security, and Content Integrity” (2010) (Accessed on 23 February 2017)
Cassely, M. “Multiple Personalities And Social Media: The Many Faces of Me” (2011), Forbes Article (Accessed on 23 February 2017)
Krotoski, A. “Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?” (2012), Guardian Article (Accessed on 20 February)
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