Topic 2

Topic 2: Online Identity


Figure 1: Some of the Key Ideas in the Single vs Multiple Online Identities Debates

Single vs Multiple Identities
When it comes to online identity, there are many debates on whether having more than one online identity is acceptable. It can be argued from either point, with some saying that the web itself (Costa and Torres, 2011), along with our online identities are multidimensional, just like our real world ones (Krotoski, 2012), so why shouldn’t users reflect this in their online activity? On the other hand important debates over safety are regularly referenced when opposing the idea of multiple identities.


topic 2 pic.pngFigure 2: Some of the Differing Views in the Single vs Multiple Identity Debate

Single Online Identity
In some cases users prefer to have just one identity, or ‘authentic self’ that reflects that of their real life identity, (Krotoski, 2012). By having this one online identity, made up from the partial identities created on the sites that we use (The Internet Society) such as those in figure 3, it is thought that you are more likely to be accepted in the online community. I believed that I only had a single online identity, as all of my social media accounts were linked up to one another, and used in connection with each other, until I began this module where I found myself keeping this blog separate from my personal life, as I begun to build up a more professional, second online identity. In this case I believe it is acceptable to have more than one identity, as this is likely to be the case in real life.


Figure 3: Examples of the sites that we use to create online identities.

Multiple Identities
As previously mentioned, some of us have more than one online identity, which in some cases, are made up of a private identity and a social identity, or perhaps in the cases of anonymous sites such as 4chan, being able to be anonymous, and have multiple identities has allowed for individuals to be themselves and express their views and opinions, without fear (Costa and Torres, 2011). However it also opens the internet up to become a place that can be used for malicious intent, whether this is through identity theft, of creating fake profiles, much like those featured on popular MTV show Catfish.

Single or Multiple Identities?
The internet provides many different opportunities to put a certain identity across, and it’s down to us whether we portray ourselves as one set identity, or adapt it to create multiple ones. Personally I believe that there is no harm in creating more than one online identity, as long as you aren’t creating an identity to intentionally deceive and mislead those that you are interacting with, in order to have the freedom to express your views and ideas.

Word Count: 415

Krotoski, A. 2012. Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?The Guardian
Costa, C. and Torres, R. 2011. To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked societyRevista Educação, Formação & Tecnologias. 47‐53
Mier, J. 2012. Fake Identities in Social Media  
Nauert, R. Online Personality Influences Real-Life Identity
7 Steps To Building Your Online Identity
The Internet Society Videos: Online Identity Overview, Protecting Your Privacy and Protecting Your Identity.
Lee, N. (2016). Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think. Engadget.
Johnson, C. 2014. Growing up digital: How the Internet affects teen identity

Figure 1: Self-made through Tagul
Figure 2: Self-made using Microsoft Word
Figure 3: Self-made using Microsoft Word



7 thoughts on “Topic 2: Online Identity

  1. Hi Rebecca,

    I thought this was a thoughtful consideration of arguments for multiple online identities. In particular, I like how you mentioned that the multi-dimensional aspects of the real world can be reflective of our online persona. This is a support for multiple identities that I spoke of in my blog, and something I consider to be crucial in creating a distinction between our professional and social lives.

    You highlighted that the creation of multiple identities should not be used in order to intentionally deceive another user. While I agree with this for the most part, do you not believe that in some cases intentional online deception can be enforced for the greater good? To exemplify this, I turn you to this Guardian article ( which speaks of the use of “fake accounts” used by the police in order to catch sexual predators. Do you think that this sort of intentional online deception is the exception to the rule of false online identities?

    Thanks, David

    Word count: 165


    1. Hi David
      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and comment on it. The idea of using multiple or deceitful identities online for ‘the greater good’ is definitely an interesting issue that should be discussed. In the article it highlights the use of fake accounts in order to catch paedophiles. Catching people breaking the law in itself can never be seen as a bad thing, however it’s the method in question that I take issue with. By saying that it’s acceptable within society for the police to use fake profiles to catch out these people, what is to say that this shouldn’t also be carried out by members of the public too? I point you to this article from The Sun, in which this has happened, and this then potentially has the risk of putting those involved in danger when they confront the suspect. It also sets us up on a slippery slope of justifying a method because the end result was seen as being a good thing, where it may not have been before.


      1. Hi Rebecca,
        Thanks for your reply! You raise a good point about the difficulty of establishing the acceptability for fake profiles by the general public in order for the good of society, and the article you presented emphasises this extremely well. However, I also feel that despite the positive outcome mentioned in the article, the measures taken by the vigilantes were, as you said, “at risk of putting those involved in danger”. Personally, I believe that the creation of false identities for the interest of the greater good should only be deemed acceptable when approached in the correct way, such as, when instigated by professional law enforcers. When the general public take the law into their own hands there is a greater level of risk involved suggesting that the next outcome may necessarily not be a positive one. I hope i have given you something to think about.
        Thanks, David


      2. Hi David,
        Thanks for taking the time to reply to my reply! I think the point you have made is a very reasonable one, in identifying the boundaries between who should and should not be creating a fake profile is definitely that needs to be established. Although the vigilantes have got the best of intentions when creating these fake profiles, it really does need to be done with caution, which I think is something that we both agree on.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Rebecca,
    I really like how you clearly distinguish between a single identity and multiple identities. I also found your personal example useful as it demonstrates that simply having multiple online accounts does not necessarily mean that each of these constitutes a new identity; instead this comes about by an active decision to, in this case, separate education from an established social identity.
    On the subject of anonymity versus authenticity, do you believe anonymity to be valuable and that measures should be put in place to maintain it moving forward? Or, do you believe that a monolithic, singular profile ( Schoof, 2015 ), as encouraged by Facebook, is the inevitable future course of online identity in an ever more digitally interconnected world?
    (word count: 124)


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