What is an online identity? It is a persona that one establishes in this digital world. Having multiple online identities has given a remarkable ability for an individual to become different individuals all at the same time and the information portrayed is what differentiates you from others.
Now that we have understood what online identities are, let’s find out why people create multiple online identities. Human beings are generally multi-faceted (no, this isn’t a case of schizophrenia). Danah Boyd, a social media researcher for Microsoft Research, once said, “Think of it this way: Would you invite everyone you’ve ever met to your birthday party? To your wedding? Different events involve different segments of your network and involve different protocols and behaviors. The same is true online.” The biggest takeaway is that one will be able to create a work-life separation. Reppler conducted a survey and found out that more than 90% of recruiters and hiring managers reviewed potential candidates’ social networking profiles as part of the screening process. As a job seeker, the goal is to create a desired impression and I am sure you would not want your potential employers know how hard you partied last weekend!
The downside of multiple identities is that it may backfire if used incorrectly. It encourages anonymity which leads to common cases of cyber-bullying, catfishing and racism rants etc. Catfishing is when someone takes advantage of using an anonymous identity to trick people, specifically teenagers, into having a relationship with them. A considerable amount of effort is needed to manage the online identities to avoid inflicting damage to an individual’s reputation.
Personally, I own multiple online identities and they are in place to manage elements of my personal and professional lives online. At the same time, I value privacy which links back to the comment I made on the previous topic. Being a marketer, I have a strong belief in personal branding and having several identities gives me an avenue to depict myself professionally. The key to managing these several online identities is to think twice about what is being posted online to minimize the risks of unwanted identity thefts. You may find out more about protecting your online privacy here.