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”?
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.”
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: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age/3/steps/263025. [Accessed 20 November 2017].
Techopedia.com. 2017. What is a Digital Identity? – Definition from Techopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.techopedia.com/definition/23915/digital-identity. [Accessed 20 November 2017].
Shape Your Identity Or It Will Shape You. 2017. Shape Your Identity Or It Will Shape You. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.reidhoffman.org/article/2166. [Accessed 20 November 2017].
Authentic | Definition of Authentic by Merriam-Webster. 2017. Authentic | Definition of Authentic by Merriam-Webster. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/authentic. [Accessed 20 November 2017].
YouTube. 2017. Online Identities – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7x0Fz0Ip5I&rel=0. [Accessed 20 November 2017].
The Guardian. 2017. Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? | Technology | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity. [Accessed 20 November 2017].
firstmonday.org. 2017. No page title. [ONLINE] Available at: http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/6791/5521. [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: https://www.scmagazineuk.com/data-privacy-day-2017-over-420-billion-records-stolen-in-2016-time-for-a-change/article/634518/. [Accessed 20 November 2017].
Personal Data Protection Act Overview . 2017. Personal Data Protection Act Overview . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.pdpc.gov.sg/legislation-and-guidelines/overview. [Accessed 20 November 2017].