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:
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!
Word Count (excluding in-line citations and headings): 296 words
[C] IdealistCareers, (2014) ‘How blogging can help you find your dream job’ Idealistcareers.org
Billingham, L. Vasconcelos A., (2013) ‘‘The presentation of self in the online world’: Goffman and the study of online identities’
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)