Online identity is your personality visible to the online world. It is constructed by partial identities, which are a subset of characteristics making up your [online] identity (Internet Society, 2015). Many internet users prefer to maintain a professional, alongside a social online identity. I will examine the advantages and disadvantages of having multiple online identities.
Possessing several online identities is beneficial as it can spread out your name. Costa and Torres (2011) argue that having open identities allows for a more reachable presence. For example, having LinkedIn aswell as Tumblr can increase your employability as professionals will find it easier to find and contact you. This is supported by the fact that 75% of recruiters use Facebook to select potential candidates (Independent, 2015).
Furthermore, social media online identities can develop your professional identity. For example, Faze Censor has YouTube, Twitter and Instagram profiles which have attracted business associates to offer him sponsorships with Gfuel and Gymshark, thus enhancing his professional identity as he is a face for these companies.
My online identities, they work to my advantage as employers have several ways of finding and contacting me.
However, there are several disadvantages to having multiple online identities. As your online identity can also be constructed by others, for example friends on Facebook tagging you in posts (Internet Society, 2015), this can offset employers. With 60% of employers screening the social media profiles of potential candidates (Business News Daily, 2016), Michael Page (n.d.) points out 69% of employers have rejected candidates based on their social media activity. University students like myself are most at risk.
My profile from an employers viewpoint. My posts are visible, but sensible, whereas photos and videos I have been tagged in are hidden.
Zadi Diaz explains in her video that when possessing multiple online identities, you should keep your posts professional even when being personal. This is due to employers screening the online profiles of their potential employees, reinforcing my previous point. This is why I refrain from offensive Facebook posts, which can be seen in the image above.
Another disadvantage of multiple online profiles is identity theft. This is the loss of control over one or more of your partial identities, a common example being Facebook ‘fraped’ by a friend. Another example of identity theft is that you could be deceived into disclosing important personal information to the wrong person (Internet Society, 2015). The email below which I received relates to theft on PayPal.
Business News Daily (2016) Social Screening: What Hiring Managers Look for On Social Media. Available at: <http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2377-social-media-hiring.html>. [Accessed 29 October 2016].
Costa, C., Torres, R. (2011) To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society, Revista Educação, pp. 47-51.
Faze Censor YouTube channel
Independent (2015) One-third of employers use social media to recruit. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/one-third-of-employers-use-social-media-to-recruit-a6673541.html>. [Accessed 29 October 2016].
Internet Society (2015) Learn about your digital identity. <http://www.internetsociety.org/manage-your-identity>. [Accessed 29 October 2016].
Michael Page (n.d.) Could Social Media Kill Your Career? Available from: <http://www.michaelpage.co.uk/minisite/optimise-social-media/>. [Accessed 29 October 2016].
Zadi Diaz’ video