The proliferation of social media technology has driven the digital space towards an emergence of new landscape. Beyond a consumer-targeted space, we see the opportunities for individuals to create online identities and socialize behind their computers. One may also create multiple identities such as using fake or anonymous names. And these multiple identities exist online as an individual’s persona even if an individual goes offline.
Undeniably, multiple online identities challenge the effective management. Although it possesses potential to reach out to a wider audience, the unstandardized image or identity may harm the reputation and credibility of the business. Canon UK is an example that illustrates the failure of online identities on Twitter and Facebook (but a growing success on Instagram), taking the social responses in consideration. Therefore, it raises the question that perhaps multiple online identities are not efficient in lasting social ramifications.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, believes that the social network’s success is attributed to the authenticity in displaying the offline life of an individual. In other words, “you are online whom you are offline” – there is only one identity. Hereby, Facebook’s philosophy reflects the argument against for having more than one online identity and an individual is not encouraged to create multiple, anonymous or pseudonymous account for any purpose. Profiles are registered with the real names of an individual and connections are mutually verified. The “Facebook Connect” service has also mirrored its belief with the tying back to the single identity on Facebook.
Having said that, Chris Pole argues that individuals are akin to diamonds that look different depending on the angle. Goffman’s theory supports his statement; and managing online identities is more of a practice rather than the representation of an authentic static identity. Depending on the context, individuals may exhibit different behaviour online and that does not equalize to an unauthentic identity.
Therefore, multiple online identities may open up new possibilities. For instance, the identities may better engage targeted audience with niche content. Usage of a pseudonymous name (an additional online identity) may minimise the curb of social factors and for an individual, perhaps this is also a solution in increasing various types of work being recognized by community of similar interests. Separate professional and social identity may put an individual in a better position of highlighting his achievements and experiences instead of social life. Linkedin accounts are often owned by many individuals for potential job opportunities while keeping their personal views on other accounts such as Facebook.
In conclusion, I believe that the benefits of multiple online identities outweigh the drawbacks and hence supports the statement. Manage your multiple online identities wisely and many opportunities will knock on your door.
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Yu, D. (2013). LinkedIn Newsfeed Ads vs Facebook Newsfeed Ads- we compared results! – BlitzMetrics. [online] BlitzMetrics. Available at: https://blitzmetrics.com/linkedin-newsfeed-ads-vs-facebook-newsfeed-ads-we-compared-results/ [Accessed 3 Nov. 2015].