Should online users be allowed to have multiple online identities? And is allowing multiple identities damaging for the online community as a whole? Your online identity consists of an array of contact with the internet. Whether this be your social media for recreational, linked in for professional or a blog/youtube site for a combination, your online identity is only what you make it.
One argument is that concealing your online identity, or having multiple online identities is a thing of the past. This is evident from the development of services such as ‘About.me’. ‘About.me’ is a site which ‘offers registered users a simple platform from which to link multiple online identities’ (Lopez, 2016, p73). Sites like this promote the integrity of social media users by linking all their accounts together, hence anyone who looks onto multiple profiles can see any discrepancies. However is this just a western point of view? ‘In Japan, the three most popular social networks operate under pseudonyms at the discretion of the account holder’ (Krotoski, 2012). It may be naïve to suggest that geographical location is a reason behind preference in online identity, instead perhaps that social normality affects what someone who is new to social media starts off doing.
I have personal experience with not wanting my online profiles to be linked together. When playing competitive Call of Duty for financial gain, the only bits of information available to people viewing my account was my gamer tag and the country in which I was from. This is because I did not want finding on other social media platforms by people I did not know.
It is easy for me to relate to those who don’t want all their information available on their multiple online identities, and goes beyond not wanting information shared among parties (A common criticism of complete online integrity). What is also obvious is the negative side which comes with having different online identities, which although is a minority, is still a problem internet users can encounter. Facebooks Zuckerberg sees having multiple identities as a ‘lack of integrity’. The veil pseudonyms’ provide means that there is little no no accountability for cyber bullying or harassment. Because there is no legislation in a lot of countries, including the United Kingdom, which makes cyber bullying illegal, it is easy to see why the forcing of online integrity is beneficial.
Ultimately whether you agree with having multiple online identities or not comes down to the pros and cons that you, the individual, stand to gain or lose from such. It is easy to see both sides of the coin and comes down to personal preference when choosing to plant your own stake in the discussion.
Krotoski, Aleks (2012) Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? Available at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity [Accessed 28/10/2016]
Zimmer, M. (2010) Facebook’s Zuckerberg: “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity” [online] Available at: http://www.michaelzimmer.org/2010/05/14/facebooks-zuckerberg-having-two-identities-for-yourself-is-an-example-of-a-lack-of-integrity/ [Accessed 27/10/2016]