“When you are using the internet, your online identity is the sum of your characteristics and interactions”1
An online identity is a digital persona that is built based on your “characteristics and interactions”1 whilst browsing a site. Multiple identities about you can be assumed/created for each of the various sites you visit, each with their own subtle differences – realistically an online identity is a ‘subset’1 of your real identity.The web is constantly evolving; data is becoming an unofficial form of tender. Large data mining companies are constantly building online identities for their users, which they then sell to other companies for various purposes e.g. direct marketing2. Having multiple online identities makes it more arduous for these companies to pattern-match and categorise your identity. At times I feel these large companies are competing to push their products or services at me.
Lewman, former Executive Director of TOR highlights the reasons for remaining anonymous, he argues “it gives people control, it lets them be creative, it lets them figure out their identity and explore what they want to do”3. The freedom and control presented by being anonymous can also have negative implications such as the ability for internet trolls and malicious users (hackers) to exist. There have been sickening instances in the past where internet trolls have been linked to teenage suicides. The ‘Tor project’ highlights some of the key reasons for wishing to be anonymous for a variety of users here.
Every a web page you visit your browser sends your ‘user agent‘, see below to see just how much information you’re sending wordpress right now:
“Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”4 – Mark Zuckerberg
In some respects this angers me; how can having an identity for your personal life and one for your professional life cause you to have a lack of integrity?With regards to building a professional image I agree that having a single ‘core’ account to represent you can be seen as more credible as over time you will build up a reliable image based on evidence – an example being using LinkedIn to portray your professional image throughout your career.
We are commonly told that in industry our employers (now or in the future) have and use the ability to research our online identities to make judgements. By having a single professional identity it implies you have nothing to hide, reflecting a suitable level of integrity.
The following video highlights how information you put online remains online: