Online identity: the sum of the characteristics and interactions you make online. These may be personal identities, created by you or profiles made for you.

We always need to be careful with what we leave behind on the web, being conscious of our digital footprint. We must pay attention to our online identity, and therefore be aware of how we display ourselves to others via the web. One comment can cause damage to our reputation, affecting our everyday life. An example of this is Justine Sacco’s tweet in 2013 that went viral, concluding with her losing her job.

Bellow shows how Justine’s tweet went worldwide (24 hours after the original post):

This example shows us how we must keep our online identity professional, even if we believe it to be a ‘personal’ account. This example shows an advantage of having both a professional and personal twitter profile meaning you could keep one closed,  for private use.

This study, done by BuzzFeed shows just how easy it is to search individuals digital footprint:

BuzzFeedVideo, Internet Privacy Prank

Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook’s Chief Executive) believes we should all be virtually transparent: “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity” This lack of integrity does not fit Facebook’s values. Anonymity online, means individuals can easily take up the persona of someone else. “[A]nonymity is often the cloak of cowards.” These individuals can attack people online, lobby abuse, spread rumours and lies. Mark Zuckerberg is frequently quoted saying that Facebook was the “foundation of reality”, thus creating authenticity. Removing anonymity allows authors to receive credit for what they say.

Having multiple accounts, one private (closed) and having one professional (open) would surely give you the benefit of both worlds?

  • Protecting your reputation
  • Deciding where and how your information is shared
  • Maintaining your freedom
  • Reducing vulnerability

This resolution still does not help the creation of your personal identity. It still shows someone that is searching your digital footprint that you have something to hide. The solution would appear to be to publish more about yourself- to help the “Google” search of you to be positive. This will help keep your reputation and share more of your identity.

“The best solution is to be yourself. If that makes you uneasy, talk with your shrink. Better yet, blog about it.”


A. Gauthier., H. Goldman., P. Ward and A. Bianchi, (2014) “When These People Realized How Easily We Found Their Personal Info Online They Totally Freaked Out” Video of experiment. Date Accessed: 23.10.14

A. Krotoski, (2012) Online Identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?  The Guardian. Date Accessed: 23.10.14

A. Vingiano,  (2013) “This Is How A Woman’s Offensive Tweet Became The World’s Top Story” BuzzFeed. Date Accessed: 23.10.14

C.Costa., R. Torres, (2011) “To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society”  University of Salford. Date Accessed: 20.10.14

F.Harvey, (2013) “Identity and Privacy” Presentation. Date Accessed: 23.10.14

G. Jean-Malbuisson, (2014), Internet Society. Date Accessed: 23.10.14

J. Jarvis, (2011) “One identity or more?”, BuzzMachine. Date Accessed: 23.10.14

jetsetshow, (2010) 7 Steps To Building Your Online Identityvideo presentation. Date Accessed: 21.10.14

M., Clear, (2014) “Why should i reveal my ‘real identity’ online? Anonymity isn’t so terrible” The Guardian. Date Accessed: 23.10.14

M. Helft, (2011) “Facebook, Foe of Anonymity, Is Forced to Explain a Secret” The New York Times. Date Accessed: 23.10.14

S. Warburton, (2010) “Rhizone: digital identity matters” Kings College London. Date Accessed: 22.10.14


3 thoughts on “Topic 2: “Who am I then?”

  1. Hi Anna,

    I think you have some very good, well made points here – your tips at the end are particularly effective, I feel. It is definitely important that you pointed out that the separation of private and professional does not help create your personal identity.

    However, I do have to question whether, given the nature of the internet, merely separating one’s personal and professional lives is enough. The true extent of the privacy available to users is entirely dependent upon the possible privacy settings for the respective websites one uses. For instance, even if Sacco’s tweet were placed under a private twitter handle, with protected tweets, any follower of hers could still take a screencap of the tweet and spread it, damaging her reputation.

    Whilst it is fair enough to say “always keep your online identity professional,” we are all but human and prone to mistakes and emotional outbursts, even online. At this point, would not being able to switch to an anonymous identity be a major asset? Zuckerberg decries the use of anonymity as lacking authenticity, but he is, after all, the CEO of a company whose entire business model is based on providing “authentic” human interaction. Is there not also a place for inauthentic interaction on the internet?



    1. Hi Calum,

      Thank you for your post! I do agree with you, it is really hard to determine how to use the internet now i have been shown just how easily my information is spread and discussed. However, i do feel we should always try and have a professional appearance on the web. Following the quote at the end of my post, if you are always yourself on the web, people cannot expect anything more, or less. Its distinguishing that web is not a place for childish remarks, and sharing information you would not wish other people knowing about you.

      I try to live my online identity as authentic as possible. I feel anonymity though it brings opportunity to express yourself freely, it also brings the negativity of cyber bullying- an issue that cannot be forgotten. We all make mistakes and its hard to think that mistakes made on the web can effect not only our real lives in the present but the future as well.

      We need to look into educating other generations on the effects of their online identity early, hopefully reducing the effect this has on their lives.



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