Topic 2: Online Identity

A quick Google of my name shows the usual links to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc, all of which I’ve knowingly placed information into in order to build a profile. But there is also information that I’ve never placed on the internet; you can see that I passed my Grade 1 Ballet exam when I was in Year 2, not exactly scandalous and it won’t stop me from getting a job but it just shows that we have little control of what is written about us online. Regardless of whether we want to have an online identity, by the time we’re at University, the chances are we inadvertently already have one. A further Google search of “For and Against having an Online Identity” produces results almost exclusively claiming having an online identity can lead to you falling victim to Identity theft; our habit of over sharing personal information on Social Media can leave us exposed to identity and bank fraud (Smith, 2014). We could argue that having more than one online identity could actually protect us.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 17.03.13

This graphic is based on the ideas found on It shows how our individual identities on the web are combined to create what is known about our Identity on the Internet. I think that this show how hard it is to have a credible identity when we attempt to have more than one; the circles wouldn’t overlap in the same way. As Aleks Krotoski points out in his article, “the main value now lies within creating a platform that provides confidence that a person is who they say they are” (Krotoski, 2012).

Something that wasn’t raised by my readings was what the motivation was for having more than one identity? I use my online identity to communicate with friends, follow beauty blogs and aimlessly browse Amazon, I find it hard to comprehend why you would have the need to do this outside of your actual identity. In Japan there are sites such as 4Chan where you are totally anonymous to other users (Krotoski, 2012). However, with cookies, IP addresses etc, can you ever truly be anonymous online?

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently announced that in the not so distant future “every young person.. will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends social media sites” (Jenkins, 2010). This presents the idea of ‘Reputation Bankruptcy’ (Zittrain, 2010). If you gain Reputation Bankruptcy, the good as well as the bad would be removed; what does it mean for society if we can effectively remove our past from the Internet?

437 Words.

Reference List: Accessed: 19/02/2015

Jenkins Jr, Holman W, 14/08/2010. “Google and the search to the future”, The Wall Street Journal. Accessed: 19/02/2015

Krotoski, Aleks, 19/04/2012. “Online Identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?, The Guardian. Accessed: 19/02/2015

Smith, Anthony, 24/10/2014. “Five ways to protect yourself against online identity theft”. The Huffington Post. Accessed:19/02/2015

Zittrain, Jonathon, 07/09/2010. “Reputation Bankruptcy”, The future of the Internet and how to stop it. Accessed: 19/02/2015


5 thoughts on “Topic 2: Online Identity

  1. I like the image you have attached above, it clearly shows how all the different activities we take part in online combine to create out complete online identity. Although we have many different accounts online, I think that they act as our partial identity which overall create one single identity. However when people start to create anonymous online identities for whatever reason I think it definitely calls integrity into question as you are automatically deceiving other people.

    You mention the concept of ‘reputation bankruptcy’ which I found very interesting. Being able to completely erase your existence online seems very difficult to me as nearly every click we make online adds to our online identities. Im not sure if being able to declare ‘reputation bankruptcy’ is a good idea, people can use this in a negative and potentially deceitful way. Do you think that being able to declare ‘reputation bankruptcy’ is a good idea?


    • I personally don’t think that ‘Reputation Bankruptcy’ can ever really be a good idea. I struggle to see how it could be used for positive reasons- I imagine the majority of people who applied for it would be doing so in order to hide or erase things which for me definitely has safety implications. Can you think of any situations where you think it could be a positive tool?


      • I completely agree with you, ‘reputation bankruptcy’ seems to me to be a way to escape or run away from things you have done online. If I saw a new account on Facebook for example of someone who had looked like they had just joined the site, it would seem a little strange and I would definitely question if they previously had an account and something went wrong for some reason.
        People should just be careful of how they behave online.


      • I definitely agree, if you don’t want your boss/family etc to see it don’t do it or don’t post it online! I’m also pretty cautious of people adding me that have very little on their profile. Those that have a full profile tend to seem more authentic!


  2. Pingback: SUMMARY TOPIC 2 – MULTIPLE ONLINE IDENTITIES | FrancescaCharnley

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