Digital Identity: Advantages and Disadvantages
The majority of people in today’s society have a ‘digital identity’ made up of information on social networking sites and many other online places. This is highlighted in figures such as there being 900 million monthly visitors to Facebook and 310 million monthly visitors to Twitter just this year (The eBusiness Guide, 2014). ‘Digital identity’ has been described as being information about a person which is cast across the internet. This identity can include material a person has posted about themselves and material others have posted about them (Williams, et al. 2010). In the past it was harder to have an ‘identity’ as little information was recorded about people, and any that was would be difficult to find. However, nowadays, most information about people is online and it is pretty easy to find. This blog post will discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of having a digital identity.
Having a digital identity could help or hinder your chances of employability. One advantage to having a digital identity is being able to build an online profile which could help to attract potential employers. It is highly likely that employers will search your name online, in order to find out as much information about you as possible, before continuing your application (Jobs IF, 2014). One website which is useful in building your online identity, in a professional way, is LinkedIn. This site has been described as being like an online CV where you can describe your skills and abilities which would be attractive to employers. Hence, when employers look you up online they will find a site full of positive information about you. Therefore, building a professional digital identity can prove to employers you have a good reputation and are a suitable candidate for the job.
On the other hand, some people may not be aware that employers will search their name and may have information online which would instantly turn employers away – a disadvantage of digital identity. For example, posting a drunken picture of you from a night out is projecting a negative image which is not what employers want to see. I have been told by my manager at work not to post any information or complaints about my job online for others to see as it could harm my role in the company. Therefore, digital identity can have advantages of helping you to get a job but can also prove to be negative if you have unsuitable material online. In my opinion, I think this part of digital identity can be used effectively as long as you monitor what information you make available to everyone.
A second advantage of having a digital identity is the chance of being reunited with a long lost family member or friend. It has been highlighted, in this case, that it is beneficial to share some information online and finding old friends is just one of these benefits. For example, in 2010, 40% of internet users said they had been contacted by someone from their past which has risen from 20% in 2006 (Madden & Smith, 2010). Personally, social networking sites, such as Facebook, have allowed me to find and keep in contact with my cousins who live in England, which also lets me see my little cousin grow up through images and videos.
However, having a broad digital identity – through sharing too much information online – also has its disadvantages. Online, many people give away information that they would not do in day-to-day life. For example, if a stranger approached you in the street and asked for your mobile number, your instant answer would be no, whereas, many of us share this data online for everyone to see. Giving away too much data about ourselves can help criminals to commit online crimes such as identity theft – using your name and information to bully and harass others on the net (Digital-Identity, 2013). Therefore, in order to keep this information slightly safer, I would suggest carefully considering what data you want others to see and also making your profiles private so only certain people can view them. *1
Overall, it is clear that having a digital identity has both advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, it is up to the person themselves to decide what they put online and this, in turn, will develop their digital identity. *2
*1 Information about keeping your digital identity safe: http://www.eliminatechaos.com/resources/business-diy-information/348-protecting-your-digital-identity.html
*2 A video explaining the points in this blog in more detail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5QwOco3amY
Digital-Identity. (2013). Disadvantages of Digital Identity. SlideShare. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/Digital-identity/disadvantages-of-digital-identity
Madden, M. & Smith, A. (2010). Reputation Management and Social Media. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/05/26/reputation-management-and-social-media/
Scholzen, B. (2012). LinkedIn Office. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/dasprid/8148014478/
The eBusiness Guide. (2014). Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites. Retrieved from http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites
Williams, S. A., Fleming, S. C., Lundqvist, K. O., & Parslow, P. N. (2010). Understanding your digital identity. Learning Exchange, 1(1). Retrieved from http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/17011
Youth Advisory Board. (2012). Social Networking: The Digital Identity. Retrieved from http://youthadvisoryboard.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/social-networking-the-digital-identity/