Online Identity

Our identity is what makes us who we are.  Oxford dictionary defines identity as “ condition of being a specific person,” involving our personality and individuality (Sykes, 1976, p. 533).  Organisations likewise can have an identity that makes them unique from other organisations.  Online identity can include user generated content and social networking activity tied to our profile (Pearson, 2009).

We need to think about the sort of online identity we project as individuals or an organisation, as it will be used, rightly or wrongly, to measure or judge us.  For example youths using social networking make an assessment of a person character and potential as an online threat based on the profile, photos, friends and other content that contribute to an online identity (Mallan & Giardina, 2009).

Our online identity can be potentially harmed by others, whether deliberate or not, such as an inappropriate posting on a Facebook wall or being tagged in an indiscreet photo.  The exposure of personal information with those who are not the intend audience can threaten privacy and reputation when social networking sites change settings taking control away from the individual (Raynes-Goldie, 2010).  Lack of management or control and system loopholes can leave our information available to be “creeped” over by others (Raynes-Goldie, 2010).

This raises issues about what content is appropriate to put online and how it is managed.  What sort of information do you want to make public?  This is an individual decision but needs weighed up knowing the risks to your identity.

The security of private information being collected and possibly shared between organisations, business and agencies or being open to hacking or abuse by unscrupulous individuals is another issue.

Big businesses operate on the Internet with the capacity to accumulate and analyse large amount of data, making our internet searches and online activity a valuable source of data (Pearson, 2009).  Many people may not like to think of their online activities being stored and analysed, this raises issues regarding our trust in businesses and their activities especially given the legal system limited jurisdiction and control over Internet.


 Mallan, K., & Giardina, N. (2009). Wikidentities: Young people collaborating on virtual identities in social network sites. First Monday, 14(6), June 1. Retrieved from

Pearson, J. (2009). Life as a Dog. Meanjin, 68(2), 67-77.

Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook. First Monday, 15(1), January 4. Retrieved from

Sykes, J. B. (Ed.). (1976). The concise Oxford dictionary of current English (6th ed.). Oxford: Clarendon.

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