Who am I online? Online identities.

Online identity is a term I have often heard discussed but put little thought into what it means for me and the way in which I use the internet. Warburton explains that the concept of digital identity is very broad and covers all kinds of information about ourselves which we put out onto the web, whether it is wittingly or unwittingly. Many people may not realise that everything we do online can be tracked and monitored and adds to this overall picture of who we appear to be.

Digital identity is made up of all online interactions, including both social professional life activities. This may become an issue when people do not wish for these to become mixed up. In this way creating more than one identity would be a good idea although Aleks Krotoski from The Guardian believes that authentic online identity has many more benefits than costs.  It may be that having one true online identity would be more beneficial than having many different and potentially false identities, as it gives a sense of consistency in one’s self.

Warburton also thinks that online identities can act as a bridge between digital and non-digital spaces. Through the ability to create some kind of anonymity online it is possible for sensitive issues to be breached and bring together communities which would otherwise not be possible. However Krotoski also discusses how websites such as 4chan which provide anonymity may be beneficial for times when you do not wish for all parts of your life to be exposed on the internet. Issues with anonymity are that there is a potential for people to misuse this and become offensive or artificial.

Once you have created an online footprint it becomes almost impossible to prevent it from spreading, and it is important not to forget that websites are companies, and despite appearing to be free they do take from us information, and this is what is precious to them and to us. Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook has said that having more than one identity shows a lack of integrity. It is actually becoming harder to really have more than one online identity due to the digital footprints which we are smearing around the web although the one identity we create most definitely does not have to be genuine. People enhance parts of their lives and hide others all the time and especially online. Therefore I think that it may be better to have one true identity online, but possibly that anonymity is not a bad thing in some situations, for do we really want money grabbing companies cashing in on information which we do not want to put out there?

Krotoski, A., 2012. Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? Guardian UK. Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity

Warburton , S., 2010. Digital Identity Matters, London, UK: King’s College London. Available at:http://digitaldisruptions.org/rhizome/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/rhiz08_DigitalIdentityMatters.pdf .

Zimmer, M., 2010. Facebook’s Zuckerberg: “Having two identities for youself is a lack of integrity.” Available at http://www.michaelzimmer.org/2010/05/14/facebooks-zuckerberg-having-two-identities-for-yourself-is-an-example-of-a-lack-of-integrity/

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