In this day and age you don’t have to be an MI5 agent to legally have multiple identities. While some domains, such as facebook, are creating a greater demand for authentic identities there are many movements to increase online anonymity levels and create a persona which can remain “separate from real life” (Krotoski 2012).
There are many reasons people may choose to have multiple online identities, with the main intention being to contain certain aspects to one identity. Dave Vronay gives the example of an Apple employee who wishes to leak corporate information, and needs to be known as an apple employee but without their “real life” identity being revealed.
Having multiple identities can be very useful in matching different needs a user may have for the Internet. For example, a person could create one twitter account to express their love for Arsenal Football Club, and passionately discuss their opinions about the club using expletives which alongside plenty of desirable comments can lead to a lot of negative attention being paid to the individual in the form of harmful comments. They may also have a Facebook account which they wish to keep professional and detached from the somewhat controversial arsenal twitter account. This is not the creation of two entirely different avatars, however just two separate reflections of the real person portrayed in different environments, however Torres and Costa (2011) suggest it can be professionally beneficial to have a single open identity.
The use of a single identity is undoubtedly more reliable, especially over the use of several social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Torres and Costa (2011) question the trust that should be placed on an individual who owns multiple online avatars. It can lead to many problems, such as online abuse where a person can hide behind an anonymous account in order to offend a person, or indeed misleading users of dating websites by creating an often entirely different avatar, both of which can have huge implications on the user at the receiving end. The video below represents some of the problems anonymity can cause in the previously mentioned topic of abuse:
Overall, I believe separate online identities should be encouraged just as in the real world, where individuals will change accordingly in response to the people and environment surrounding them, whether that be on a rugby pitch or in a job interview.
A Krotoski, 2012, Online Identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?, The Guardian, accessed at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity accessed 28/10/16.
M Swan, YouTube Video posted 2014. Accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKdH_sTUZ_s accessed 30/10/16
Torres and Costa, 2011, To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society, accessed at http://eft.educom.pt/index.php/eft/article/view/216/126 accessed 29/10/2016.
D Vronay, The Online Identity Crisis, Wired. accessed at: https://www.wired.com/insights/2014/11/the-online-identity-crisis/ accessed 30/10/16.
Image, accessed at: http://mastersofmedia.hum.uva.nl/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/social-media-identity.jpg accessed on 30/10/16.
Image, accessed at: https://validateuk.co.uk/images/UK-ID-Card/Official-ID-Card.png access on 30/10/16.