The Internet is a brilliant tool for learning and for networking of all ages. The idea of an online identity is the image that you project online (Madden, 2010). I have recently been looking into the importance of managing my online identity as I want to become a teacher and therefore want to make sure that what is online is a correct imprint of me as digital identity matters. Jarvis (2011) states that a student teacher didn’t receive her diploma because a photograph was viewed by people who felt it inappropriate even though it was outside her professional life highlighting just how important managing online identity can be.
When researching my own digital identity I did what in 2009, 57% of Internet users did (Madden, 2010). I used a search engine to check out what information online there was about me. My reason behind this was general curiosity. If an employer or, as I want to be a teacher, a parent or fellow teacher or even pupil searched online for me, what would they find? What, if any, information is available about me online?
Well my question was answered, and it turns out, a lot more than I expected. What was even more surprising was that as of 3 years ago, the last time I can remember searching for myself, I had no digital identity and now I could see pictures of myself online. It was strange, however none of the information about myself could affect me in a negative way, say for example if a potential employer was to view this it would only reflect the person I am and my interests but I know that this can’t be the case for everyone.
Apart from my Facebook and Twitter accounts all the other information available when I searched my name was information which was out with my control, it had been placed online and linked to me by someone else. Costa and Torres (2011) highlights that the increase in your digital footprint makes it harder to control what is private and what is public along with the changing policies of social media. Alexander (2008) agrees by explaining privacy is difficult to a mange online and this could be an argument for multiple online identities, to control what is available and linked back to you. Having multiple identities could benefit people by hiding what they wouldn’t want an employer to see. In fact Jobvite 2012 found that 92% of employers filtered candidates through online searches. A multiple identity could also be a way of promoting a business or maintaining a professional profile.
A reason against multiple online identities is that an employer may view your “professional” identity and think you too serious as it is often good to see an equal balance of professional and personal life and in some cases having one identity may benefit you in the eyes of an employer as it will allow them to view the kind of person you are. Another reason against multiple identities is that in some cases fake identities can be set up using fake photos and talking to people online (Peterson 2013). A friend of mine once searched for herself online and found that someone had set up an online dating profile using her name and photos from her various social media platforms which was very worrying. The use of multiple identites can also be how people manage to cyber bullying as well which is a concern too.
Personally I don’t want everything that I do to be visible online, not because I have anything to hide or be ashamed of but merely because I don’t necessarily want even my private information available and accessible to the public which is why my Facebook is private, for myself, my family and my friends. I therefore believe that it is important to maintain and manage our digital identities, not necessarily hide but consider what information you and others make about yourself available as online reputation matters and nothing on the web is private. If that means setting up your own multiple identities that’s all part of managing our own digital identity.
Alexander, B. (2008). Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracies. Theory Into Practice, 47(2)
Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, n.º extra, Abril de 2011, 47-53.
Retrieved from http://eft.educom.pt.
Jarvis, J. (2011). One identity or more? BlogMachine.
Retrieved from http://buzzmachine.com/2011/03/08/one-identity-or-more/
Madden, M. (2010, May 26). Reputation Management and Social Media. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/05/26/reputation-management-and-social-media/
Schawbel, D. (2012). How Recruiters Use Social Networks to Make HiringDecisions Now. Retrieved 3rd January 2015, from http://business.time.com/2012/07/09/how-recruiters-use-social-networks-to-make-hiring-decisions-now/