Social media can be risky. As Justine Sacco found out, a single unfortunate tweet can throw your career off track (Ronson, 2015). However, with 40% to 60% of employers using social media to screen potential employees, it’s not reasonable to stay off it either (CareerBuilder, 2014).
Furthermore, when social networking websites launched, its content and experience were tailored to a group of audience: towards teenagers on MySpace, university students on Facebook and hi-tech professionals on LinkedIn (Agichtein et al., 2008). As individuals transitioned between life stages their tastes and preferences changed, as well as their social connections. To cater for these changes and to reach a niche audience, individuals fragment their interests into separate social media accounts or multiple identities (Casserly, 2011).
Benefits and Drawbacks:
There is also the option to remain anonymous online. Anonymity has various benefits such as, increased freedom of self-expression and high level of privacy and gives the oppressed and threatened a platform to voice their opinions without compromising their identity and safety. Anonymity also comes with numerous drawbacks like the risk of appearing inauthentic or lacking integrity, seeming untrustworthy and the risk of enabling catfishing, trolling, flaming, cyberbullying and abuse (Future Learn, 2018).
While I have not felt the need to remain anonymous, I have definitely benefitted from multiple online identities. High level of privacy means I have been able to keep my personal information safe while avoiding the possibilities of getting hacked and I have been able to control what I share with different groups of people ranging from friends to work colleagues.
Single identity provides the opportunity for good personal branding while blurring the line between your private and professional life. Whereas, multiple identities provides more security and allows us to differentiate between our private and professional life.
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Agichtein, E., Castillo, C., Donato, D., Gionis, A. and Mishne, G. (2008) 184pc128.csie.ntnu.edu.tw: Finding High-Quality Content in Social Media. Available from: http://184pc128.csie.ntnu.edu.tw/presentation/09-03-09/Finding%20High-Quality%20Content%20in%20Social%20Media.pdf [Accessed 20 April 2018].
CareerBuilder (2014) Careerbuilder.com: Number of Employers Passing on Applicants Due to Social Media Posts Continues to Rise, According to New CareerBuilder Survey – CareerBuilder. Available from: http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=6%2F26%2F2014&id=pr829&ed=12%2F31%2F2014 [Accessed 23 April 2018].
Casserly, M. (2011) Forbes.com: Forbes Welcome. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2011/01/26/multiple-personalities-and-social-media-the-many-faces-of-me/2/&refURL=&referrer=#4b276d5d4573 [Accessed 20 April 2018].
Future Learn (2018) FutureLearn: What is your network identity? – Learning in the Network Age – University of Southampton. Available from: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age/4/steps/303357 [Accessed 19 April 2018].
Ronson, J. (2015) Nytimes.com: How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=0 [Accessed 19 April 2018].