Tom, meet Professional Tom.

Privacy is crucial in a democracy, and shouldn’t be conflated with wrongdoing (Solove, 2007). However, as the adoption of the internet has increased, symbiotically the amount of privacy has decreased. Faced with this problem, individuals have started to separate their once unified identity into separate profiles – often for professional or privacy goals. Consequently, we will analyse whether this practice is beneficial and sustainable!

For privacy purposes

By having multiple profiles one benefits from increased privacy – especially if some of the additional profiles are anonymous. By having multiple potentially anonymous accounts it keeps information about you distributed and/or private – meaning you are less vulnerable to Snowden-esque spying, or collection by firms like Cambridge Analytica. This distribution of information can combat the automatic sorting of individuals which often “reinforce stereotypes that have the potential to stigmatise and facilitate suspicion discrimination and even oppression.” (Feltwell et al., 2016). Furthermore, these profiles can reduce your risk of identity theft in a society where everyone else’s keeps rising (CiFas, 2017) – which can only be good!

However, using multiple identities can sometimes seem inappropriate – as it creates an unreliable image.

For employment purposes:

Additionally, with 70% of employers now checking your social media before hiring you (CareerBuilder, 2017), keeping separate identities is attractive. This can be achieved by using a professional networking site like LinkedIn for self-promotion (work) and Facebook for self-expression (social) (Van Dijck, 2013). However, doing so comes with drawbacks:

Conclusion

Whilst Zuckerberg may claim operating various identities lacks “integrity”, this is not surprising considering his data-mining motives. Further, having multiple accounts merely mirrors the offline contrast between ‘front of stage’ and ‘back stage’ behaviour (Billingham, 2013). Additionally, the time consuming manner of maintaining multiple profiles has been reduced by technological developments. Therefore, I feel that keeping various profiles – private professional and anonymous – is the best way of maintaining an online identity – as long as you are conscious of the obstacles!

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Word Count (excluding in-line citations and headings): 296 words

 

Video references:

[A] Salm, L., ‘70% of employers are snooping candidates’ social media profiles’, CareerBuilder

[B] Vicknair, J., Elkersh, D., Yancey, K., Budden, M., (2010)  ‘The Use Of Social Networking Websites As A Recruiting Tool For Employers’ American Journal of Business Education

[C] IdealistCareers, (2014) ‘How blogging can help you find your dream job’ Idealistcareers.org

Text references:

Billingham, L. Vasconcelos A., (2013) ‘‘The presentation of self in the online world’: Goffman and the study of online identities’

Salm, L., (2017) ‘70% of employers are snooping candidates’ social media profiles’, CareerBuilder

Cifas, (2017) ‘Identity fraud soars to new levels’ Cifas Newsroom

Feltwell, T., Lawson, S., Kirman, Benjamin J,. (2016) ‘Managing Multiple Identities to Combat Stigmatisation in the Digital Age. In: Proceedings of Workshop on Everyday Surveillance:ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems’ (CHI)

Van Dijck, J., (2013) ‘‘You have one identity’: performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn’, Media Culture and Society

Solove, D., (2007) ‘I’ve Got Nothing to Hide’ and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy’ San Diego Law Review, Vol. 44, p. 745,

 

14 Comments

  1. Hi Tom,

    Great post, the use of graphics and videos really help break the text up and made it very easy to read.

    I agree with you, that privacy is one of the most crucial factors which benefits multiple identities, which is what I distinguish myself as.
    Like yourself, I found the quote from Zuckerberg about how he believes having multiple identities is a lack of integrity. What do you feel is more vital when operating online, your privacy or the integrity of yourself?

    Also, you mentioned that employers are increasingly scouting your social media accounts prior to hiring you and may perform a Facebook search for your profile to investigate your hobbies. I was wondering your thoughts on whether this is fair as people separate accounts by personal and proffesional?

    Once again great blog post!
    Look forward to hearing your replies
    Will Jones

    Reply

    1. Hi Will,

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the post.
      I’m a bit of a hypocrite really, as I have written both here, and in my dissertation about the inherent value of privacy. I really do believe it is one of the most important rights of citizens, and cannot be undervalued. I loved Snowden’s quote that “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” However, whilst I can appreciate the right, I don’t really do enough to protect my privacy online – and it’s something I really will address soon. So in short, Privacy is more vital to me when operating online – even if it doesn’t always show! What about yourself – which do you find to be more vital?

      I also do think it’s fair for people to separate their personal and professional lives. In the past, a boss was unable to know what you were doing on your weekends, or after work – because it was none of his business! Having separate accounts brings that old tradition into modern (digital) society.

      Thanks
      Tom

      Reply

      1. Hi Tom,

        Thanks for your reply. I have to say I agree with you that privacy is the most important, especially when compared to authenticity. Privacy for some people is not you really thought about till you get hacked or your data leaked and it becomes a lot more apparent. That quote is a great quote you have used and whatever online identity you portray you need to make sure you’re safe online.

        Yes I completely agree with the fact people should be able to distinguish between personal and professional, however, I also see the employers side of thing. Most companies try and make their business a social hub where teamwork is vital. Obviously, certain characters will fit better and improve the team than others. However, I feel you can find out a persons hobbies and personality in other ways opposed to finding their online accounts. An interview, for example, should suffice to find out if a person could be a good fit or a bad fit.

        Reply

  2. Hi Tom!

    This was a great read, you explained the pros and cons of having different online profiles really well!

    When it comes to my experience, LinkedIn never helped me and I never had any issues getting employed without it. My friends and family shudder in horror each time they hear that I deleted my profile a year ago. I considered it an extra thing I had to keep up because others around me told to, and this article might indicate that many users feel the same as I do. As you noted, though, traditional recruiting seems to be shifting heavily towards online-based platforms, but many people are cultivating those profiles carefully and they might not accurately represent them.

    Considering those facts, how important do you think having a professional profile must be to employers?

    Thanks,
    Iarina

    Reply

    1. Hi Iarina, glad you enjoyed the post!
      I can actually relate to your LinkedIn experience – I’ve never needed it in the past, and so haven’t had a profile until doing this topic! One of the aspects of Linkedin which I’ve always hated is that people can see when you view their profile – which is so anti-privacy!

      I think the importance of a professional profile depends on the role which you are going for. I like to think that employers wouldn’t judge against you for not having an explicitly professional profile, but rather only judge you if you have an overly social profile which promotes negative things – like drugs, or uses lots of profanities. However, we know that employers are flooded with CV’s, so are likely to use any differentiating factor they can – so I think it’s better to play safe and create a professional profile!

      You say that all of your friends and family shuddered when they heard you deleted their Linkedin – did you tell them about your reasoning? If so, what did they make of it?

      Thanks
      Tom

      Reply

      1. Hi Tom!

        Yes, I did explain why I chose to delete my profile and I they were all aware that I did not ever need it to get employed. The only one that really understood where I came from was my partner, an avid LinkedIn user. Everyone else, including my father, considered me a bit weird for having this stance. On the other hand, I started thinking about 10, 20 years from now, when I will need to demonstrate my skills for a far more advanced job. It will definitely be nice to have testimonials from people that worked with me readily available there, without having to rely on requesting references.

        All this said, I might experience its benefits one day, it’s just now that I feel it’s not doing much for me.

        Iarina

        Reply

  3. Hi Tom,

    Nice blog and great use of infographics and video! The use of these made the topic very easy to understand.

    I notice that you particularly focus on privacy of profiles this week which is a really important issue to consider. Due to this, I have found a link which may be of interest to you:

    https://www.expressvpn.com/internet-privacy/defend-against-online-stalkers/keep-your-online-identity-secret/

    After reading your blog, I would also be interested to know if you have created multiple identities online or just stick to one? I have found a link which explains how to manage multiple identities effectively which may be of use to you if you do indeed have more than one!

    https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=RyIsDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA359&lpg=PA359&dq=5+items+which+makes+up+our+online+identities&source=bl&ots=jc5RZVXHks&sig=Q1d8weP3LRRzeHV-eRNnk_h_9dM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjKo8zdytHXAhUDRo8KHWvKApwQ6AEIUTAJ#v=onepage&q=5%20items%20which%20makes%20up%20our%20online%20identities&f=false,

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts!

    Many thanks,

    Chloe

    Reply

    1. Hi Chloe,

      Glad to hear you liked the post – it was one of my favourite topics so far!
      I found the ExpressVPN link interesting – and if it interested you I have found Whoer to be great at applying these “identifiers” to you – so you can grasp the information available to sites when you access them!

      With regards to my own personal identity – I essentially only have one. I have long known about the privacy risks associated with doing so, but have been slow to act. I think this module will kick me into actually doing something about it – and when I’m doing it I’m sure the book will be really helpful – so thank you! I also noticed from your blog post that you’ve created a Professional Facebook page – which will probably be my starting point now that I am fully conscious of the benefits it can have!

      Thanks
      Tom

      Reply

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