Topic 3: Are you Real (Pt II)? Play safe…


Are we authentic? As mentioned in my previous post, having multiple identities results in a low authenticity. But, does having a single identity generally make users more authentic?

Through my discussion with Amoz, I learnt that even though profile experimentation(“more real” or “idealized” identities)exists – these profiles reflect the same digital breadcrumbs of the same persona – a different symptom for the same core self (The Guardian, 2017).

My discussion with Pearl, further reinforce my thoughts on how authenticity can be measured in online identities. She mentioned that it is crucial to evaluate the objectivity of the identities before making a decision on what is “authentic” or not – bringing us back to Topic 2.

Interestingly, 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). So, who is to say that multiple identities are “less authentic”?

Interesting take on trust as a factor in receiving authentic information on SNS:

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 9.22.05 PM.png

Fig 1.2 | Research model by Lo, Janice and Riemenschneider, Cindy, 2010

Back to online identities, Amoz’s post got me thinking about online privacy. He states that online privacy is the ability to personalised information to the different social scopes.

“Different sites, different audiences, different purposes.” she says. “Very simple.”

boyd, 2016

Online privacy concerns have been on the rise – especially true in the USA, where the NSA conducted a mass surveillance operation in 2013 (Harvard Gazette, 2017).

The information users put online can be exploited for social media tracking, political leanings, loyalty cards, in-store location and smartphone battery (to name a few) (Makeuseof, 2017). Below are some security measures internet users can take:


Fig 1.1 | Net Privacy graphics by Coleman/ Harvard Staff

What exactly is Online Security? Take a look at the video below:

Source: Self-produced using various sources

To sum up, the authenticity of online identities is dependent on the trust between users and audience. While users should take extra measures on privacy and security, regardless of their choice of online identity. Stay safe on the web!

Word Count: 299


Pearl Ng

Amoz Kuang



Hine, Christine, 2008. Virtual Ethnography: Modes, Varieties, Affordances. edited by Nigel G Fielding, Raymond M Lee, Grant Blank, I, 263-265.

amoz’s mind. 2017. Mask Off? | amoz’s mind. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2017].

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

Living on the Web with Pearl. 2017. Single or Multiple Online Identities: What’s the drawback and benefits? – Living on the Web with Pearl. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2017].

Engadget. 2017. Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2017].

Harvard Gazette. 2017. When it comes to internet privacy, be very afraid, analyst suggests | Harvard Gazette. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2017].

Lifewire. 2017. What is an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2017].

MakeUseOf. 2017. 5 Ways Your Information Is Being Exploited Every Day. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2017].

Security | Definition of Security by Merriam-Webster. 2017. Security | Definition of Security by Merriam-Webster. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2017].

YouTube. 2017. Online Security – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2017].

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.


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].