Topic 3: Who are you?

Our identity is shaped by our actions, determining other’s perception of us (Hoffman, 2017). In the digital world, we too develop an online identity – shaped by our ACTIVE actions on the web. While, our choice of online identity (Single, Multiple or Anonymous) could be influenced by our digital differences (Futurelearn, 2017), does it affects your “authenticity”?

Online identity.jpg

Fig 1.1 | Self-produced Online Identity Pros and Cons Infographic (Futurelearn,2017)

Being “authentic” is conforming to original features that is not false or imitated. While being “authentic” to one’s identity means being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character (Merriam-Webster, 2017). It is clear that harboring an anonymous identity is inauthentic. However, the lines remain blurred with single and multiple identities. Let’s take a look at the video I created for some insights on their levels of online authenticity.

Vid 1.1| Self-produced video using Powtoon, using various sources

“…to allow all users to be as authentic or inauthentic as they choose, no matter how fluid, contextual, and socially constructed that identity may be.”

Haimson; Hoffmann, 2017

Theoretically, having a single identity on the web is more authentic. However, there have been debates about what being authentic (online or offline) means. Taking Facebook as an example – Facebook profiles are tied to a person’s real name and connections, and to their activities across cyberspace (The Guardian, 2017). However, some users use this opportunity to experiment around with their profiles – either being “more-real” online compared to their offline identities or becoming their “ideal” self online rather than their “actual” self (Haimson; Hoffmann, 2017).

Having a single identity raises concerns about privacy and security due to the traceable digital footprint. In the 2015 figures alone, an increase of 1266% in online frauds was recorded –  including a £113 million cyber-fraud (costing the UK £124 million in cybercrime) (SC Media UK, 2017). The rising number of online identity fraud caused users to be more concern about their personal data – resulting in the Personal Data Protection Act in Singapore (PDPC, 2017).

Although, single identity allows users to appear more “authentic”, is it worth the risk? Or, is it better to stay under the “safety umbrella” having multiple identities offers?

Word Count: 300


FutureLearn. 2017. What is your network identity? – Learning in the Network Age – University of Southampton. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2017]. 2017. What is a Digital Identity? – Definition from Techopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2017].

Shape Your Identity Or It Will Shape You. 2017. Shape Your Identity Or It Will Shape You. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2017].

Authentic | Definition of Authentic by Merriam-Webster. 2017. Authentic | Definition of Authentic by Merriam-Webster. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2017].

YouTube. 2017. Online Identities – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2017].

The Guardian. 2017. Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? | Technology | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2017]. 2017. No page title. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2017].

SC Media UK. 2017. Data Privacy Day 2017: over 420 billion records stolen in 2016, time for a change?. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2017].

Personal Data Protection Act Overview . 2017. Personal Data Protection Act Overview . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2017].

16 thoughts on “Topic 3: Who are you?

  1. Hey Alicia,

    Lovely graphics! I agree that having a single online identity may appear to be authentic.

    Personally, I take on a professional persona at work and become mindful of my words. Whereas, I tend to joke with my friends and make silly comments. I find it difficult to bring my multiple personas and combine them into one single identity online. If I were to present myself in the middle of the spectrum between personal and professional, wouldn’t I be seen as less authentic?

    As we develop multiple online identities, sometimes we clash into this single identity. In this article (, we see that Google and Facebook want to aggregate all of these personas into a single identity because they think that it is good for users. Do you think it will benefit us if we use Facebook/ Google ID to login to other online sites? Or will it affect how we maintain our multiple online identities?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Stella! Thank you for dropping by my blog. I think that no matter what identity you adopt in professional or personal settings – they are all “breadcrumbs” to the same persona and still reflect who you are as a person (The Guardian, 2017). Likewise for digital identities, whether you are using a single or multiple identities on the web, all identities still reflect your “core” self. So, who are we to say that you are less authentic based on how you behave in different environments?

      Personally, I use Facebook to login/ sign up for other sites due to the ease of simply clicking one button compared to filling up an application form and verifying your email (long, long, process). I think it depends on each individual on their digital preferences. Indeed, by going through the long process of registering for other third-party sites, do help in covering your digital footprint. But, to me, it is not worth the hassle to do so.


      The Guardian. 2017. How different are your online and offline personalities? | Media Network | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2017].


      1. Hey Alicia,

        Thank you for your reply! Your response has been thought-provoking. It channelled a different perspective of thoughts, which makes me consider that it is not about bringing all different personas into one single identity. But as we carry on different identities be it in the personal or professional setting, we probably just reflect a part of our identity.

        Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that you wouldn’t mind leaving your digital footprints to marketers for convenience sake. This way, Facebook actually takes in your personal data and this can result in the lack of privacy, which may also render limitations to freedom online. In fact, your search may be limited based on assumptions from your personal data. Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hello Stella! Yes, I do not mind leaving my Digital footprint on my commonly used browsers for convenience sake. Just as you mentioned, this will lead to certain limitations of the net that I have access to. To counter this problem, I would usually do my search using Google “incognito” or simply using another web browser that I less frequent, like Safari or Opera.


  2. Hi Alicia!
    Great work on your info-graphics and your pow-toon video that intrigues viewers to think about online identity!
    You mentioned that having a single identity raises concerns about privacy and security due to the traceable digital footprint. I agree as everything would be exposed in the web and while being authentic is present, it might not be deeming as professional.

    Did you know that data shows 93% of hiring managers will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision? Hence, I feel that having multiple identity would deem more as appropriate since we are all individuals stepping into the corporate world. What do you think?

    For cyber-bulling, aside single identities getting stolen, I believe a huge fraction of it is by anonymous identities. Do you think anonymous identity is dangerous and fatal to us? If yes, why and how should we address the issue? If no, why?

    Warmest Regards,


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Pearl! Thank you for dropping by my blog! Personally, I feel that corporate surveillance is a violation of privacy – maybe that’s because I’m the one being looked at… (Hey there, future employer!) However, I feel that it is crucial to help identify potential candidate suitable for the job.

      As for the use of anonymous identity, I believe that there are pros and cons to this. There is no doubt that cyberbullying is a con. However, digital companies like Tor Project and 4chan believes that the ability to be anonymous is increasingly important because it gives people control, it lets them be creative, it lets them figure out their identity and explore what they want to do, or to research topics that aren’t necessarily ‘them’ and may not want to be tied to their real name for perpetuity (The Guardian, 2017). In fact, 4chan’s creator, Christopher Poole, adds on that having a single identity does not necessarily make it “authentic”. Using an anonymous identity also helps to provide a voice to the oppressed and threatened people (Futurelearn, 2017). Do you think the pros of anonymous identity outweigh the cons?


  3. Hi Alicia,

    I love the video you made, it looks very professional and helps to condense the information provided. I’ve noticed that you talked about the ‘authenticity’ of single identities on the web. I personally believe that single identities are not as authentic as they may appear to be. In Goffman’s dramaturgical approach, the idea of a back stage is put forth. It refers to a private space for the individual to remove their public identity and assume their identity (Goffman, 1959) However, single identities tend to represent an idealized version of themselves instead of a true representation of the individual’s character (Haimson & Hoffman, 2016)
    Hence, I am curious to hear your opinion on the authenticity of single identities on the Internet. Hope to hear from you soon and great job on the post!
    Kirby Koh Gengshan


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Kirby! Thank you for dropping by my blog! I think that the authenticity of online identities (even, real-life identities) cannot be measured.

      Users can easily manipulate their profiles on the web – whether they adopt a single or multiple identities. Hine (2008) states that the authenticity of users is linked to trust -the “authenticity” of information given/ received depends on the trust between users and their audience (Hine, 2008).

      Thus, I strongly believe that the level of authenticity one gives another is largely dependable on the trust between them.


      Lo, Janice and Riemenschneider, Cindy, “An Examination of Privacy Concerns and Trust Entities in Determining Willingness to Disclose Personal Information on a Social Networking Site” (2010). AMCIS 2010 Proceedings. 46.


  4. Hi Alicia!

    Thank you for an insightful post addressing authenticity! Great effort put in creating your own visuals too! Thumbs up for that!

    Although theoretically it is said that having a single identity on the web is more authentic, personally, I do not think so. I feel that I can be authentic too even though I have a personal and professional network identity by having a consistent outlook and really mean what I say. Presenting different parts of me appropriately to various stakeholders does not mean that I am not true to my personality, spirit or character. To me, it just means how I handle things at different levels.

    I do understand that by just having a single identity raises concerns about privacy and security due to the traceable digital footprint. There will be more risk of identity theft and cyberbullying too. How would you address these issues then?

    Looking forward to your response! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Shi Lin! Thank you for dropping by my blog! Interesting views on authenticity using multiple identities! Personally, I adopt multiple identities online as well! I find that having a clear segregation between personal and professional life easier when it comes to real-life interaction with colleagues and friends.

      There is no doubt that privacy and security concerns exist, no matter what online identity you take on. You can take a look at a video I created on Online Security and its measures for a better understanding of what I feel about the issue.

      Liked by 1 person

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