As Internet use became more and more popular, the number of identities created online also grew. In a previous blog post I mentioned the different ways in which people use the web, and how they would present themselves while using it. While people may choose to utilise the web in either a more personal or professional manner, they will be presenting an online identity to all those who go online.
When dealing with multiple identities, it often comes down to the different ways in which we represent ourselves. (Costa and Torres, 2011) The most common differences would be, for example, having a personal identity versus a professional identity. Even on a personal level, you may sometimes want to have multiple identities for different audiences.
Having friends who cosplay, I often hear stories where they either don’t want work colleagues who are outside of the cosplay scene to see what they do; conversely, there are those who have people adding them on Facebook or sending messages to their dedicated cosplay Facebook page as if they were friends, despite never meeting them before. There are multiple other reasons for creating this extra identity, but this is generally the main one in order to maintain privacy.
This is one way in which people would cite privacy as the reason why they have multiple online identities. However, is there a way in which having one online identity would actually increase security? Fahmida Rashid argues that by using your Facebook or Google account to sign into other sites that offer that option, it is actually safer than creating a new account and identity altogether. (Rashid, 2015) This may be true in that once you have an account that is on a secure platform such as Google, where you have customised security settings, it is much easier to use this one account for several sites. However, there is never a way to be 100% secure. In fact, developments over the years meant that anonymity became harder to achieve, one example being YouTube’s more restricted username policies.
The following video explores the evolution of Internet identities:
In essence, there are no reasons why you shouldn’t create multiple online identities, as often it is to do with your privacy. Personally, I feel that by separating your identities it is easier to maintain security, while also keeping a personal or professional profile. I will leave you all with this short documentary about online identity:
Costa, Cristina, & Torres, Ricardo, (2011), “To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society” [Accessed 25th February]
CraftySorceress, “Good-Not good reasons to get a cosplay page” [Accessed 25th February]
Gibbs, Samuel, (2015), “The return of the YouTube troll: Google ends its ‘real name’ commenter policy”, The Guardian , [Accessed 26th February]
Rashid, Fahmida Y., (2015), “Signing Into Websites With Google, Facebook is Good for Security” [Accessed 26th February]