Executive director of Tor, Andrew Lewman, stated “the ability to be anonymous is increasingly important because it gives people control, it lets them be creative, it lets them figure out their identity and explore what they want to do, or to research topics that aren’t necessarily ‘them’ and may not want tied to their real name for perpetuity,” (Krotoski, 2018).
Digital identity is a serious matter in modern society, especially concerning around presentation and reputation, i.e. how we participate in shared spaces and how others think of us.
Source: A video created by myself using Powtoon
The different types of identities:
Private life vs professional.
It is increasingly important to make the distinction between professional and private identities. One of the participants in Costa and Torres’ (2011) study did not want their digital identity to be a snapshot of her real-life identity, making sure nobody could track her real identity back from the logins she was using when opening accounts.
Ultimately it depends on one’s career as to which is best suited. For individuals trying to build a brand and amass followers, a single identity is ideal. Travel or fitness bloggers would require such an identity, working in industries where digital technologies have blurred dichotomies of work and leisure. Typically, multiple identities would be used where one aims to keep their private life away from the scrutiny of their work.
Bowes (2013) found online identities to be an important tool of promotion, if done correctly. It is however important to remember that once posted, a comment is there for everybody to see. Justine Sacco faced huge backlash after sending out an offensive tweet, which became the Worldwide no.1 trend, instigating calls for her to be fired (Ronson, 2015).
A parallelism exists between online identities and digital differences. For those not digitally literate, managing multiple identities may be challenging and so put them at a disadvantage when applying for jobs.
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FutureLearn (2018) What is your network identity? – Learning in the Network Age. University of Southampton. Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age/4/steps/303357 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2018]
Krotoski, A. (2018). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity [Accessed 22 Apr. 2018].
Ronson, J. (2015). How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html [Accessed 22 Apr. 2018].