Topic 2: Managing Your Online Identity

Here is a video I made highlighting the 5 key points to managing your online identity:

According to Costa and Torres (2011) single or multiple identities is one of the major dichotomies of online identities. It can be a difficult choice to make and a difficult situation to maintain and having a single online identity or multiple online identities both have benefits and limitations. Anyone with an active social media account makes decisions about how to present himself or herself online whether they realise it or not. Brogan (2008) highlights that online identities aren’t all negative and can be used for good to generate job opportunities and act as a showcase of your skills and expertise, they can be a great chance to show who you are and what you can do as long as you’re careful and thoughtful with them. A digital identity can act as a social profile to complement professional and academic profiles (Costa & Torres, 2011) but should the professional and personal be kept separate or is there a benefit to merging them together in one single identity?

In their research Van Kleek at al. (2015) found that a number of their participants tried to maintain separation among their personal, professional and other social roles. There are a number of reasons why individuals choose to do this including the desire to keep their personal and professional of lives separate and keep content they may deem appropriate on their personal profiles away from their professional profiles where it may not be appropriate.

One of the main arguments for having just one online identity is that it is very difficult to continually manage multiple identities. Labrecque, Markos and Milne (2011) and Casserly (2011) argue that

“…managing multiple online personas is increasingly difficult, and separating social and professional worlds appears nearly impossible without the proper mechanisms for control.”

Being able to have one online identity is simpler and more convenient.

Another argument in favour is raised by Krotoski (2012), Casserly (2011) and Brogan (2008) is that if you have one identity that identity is likely to be a far more authentic representation of you which people are likely to have a better response to and trust more. Increasingly, people are blurring the lines between having distinctive personal and professional profiles and these are merging into new, more authentic, personal-professional profiles that are far more relatable. In addition to this, anonymity could be damaging because anonymity doesn’t transfer into offline opportunities like jobs (Diaz, 2010; Krotoski, 2012; Brogan, 2008).

Finally, one factor that is important to consider which is highlighted by Costa and Torres (2011) is that any online identity however carefully constructed is subject to interference by others.

“Any online information about us – even if it was not added by ourselves in the first place- defines a part of our digital identity: school records, mentions by third parties, tagged pictures, blog comments.” (Costa & Torres, 2011)

This point is emphasized in the a TED Talk by Acquisti (TED, 2013) he argues line between public and private is increasingly blurred and that the most important thing is that people are aware of the implications of their actions and how available their online identity data is.

My own of managing my online identity is very much having separate personal and professional identities which I touched upon last week, as did a number of other people in their blogs and which was also mentioned in the comments left on my blog and that I left on other peoples blogs. This weeks topic has made me consider my own actions and whether they are in fact the best way to manage my own online identity and what other options I have.


Arguments For a Single Identity





Arguments Against a Single Identity

Separation of identities – personae

Separation of content



Brogan, C. (2008, June). Develop a Strong Personal Brand Online 1. Retrieved February 2016, from Chris Brogan:

Casserly, M. (2011, January). Multiple Personalities And Social Media: The Many Faces of Me. Retrieved February 2016, from Forbes:

Changizi, M. (2010, February). Multiple Personality Social Media. Retrieved February 2016, from Science 2.0:

Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias , 9, 47-53.

Diaz, Z. (2010, June). 7 Steps To Building Your Online Identity. Retrieved February 2016, from YouTube:

Internet Society. (n.d.). Internet Society. Retrieved February 2016, from Manage your Identity [VIDEOS]:

Krotoski, A. (2012, April). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? Retrieved February 2016, from The Guardian:

Labrecque, L., Markos, E., & Milne, G. (2011). Online Personal Branding: Processes, Challenges, and Implications. Journal of Interactive Marketing , 25, 37-50.

TED. (2013, June). Alessandro Acquisti: What will a future without secrets look like? Retrieved February 2016, from TED:

University of Southampton. (2013). Web Science: How the Web is changing the World (Step 5.9) [VIDEO]. Retrieved February 2016, from FutureLearn:

Van Kleek, M., Smith, D., Shadbolt, N., Murray-Rust, D., & Guy, A. (2015). Self Curation, Social Partitioning, Escaping from Prejudice and Harassment: the Many Dimensions of Lying Online. WWW 2015 Companion (pp. 371-372). Florence, Italy: ACM.

Image: – public domain


11 Comments Add yours

  1. at16g13 says:

    Hi Ellie. Your post provides some interesting insight into the benefits and drawbacks of only having one online identity. I found the part about the blurring of professional and personal profiles into a multi-purpose personal/professional profile particularly interesting as I hadn’t necessarily thought about the unique benefits of this. Having done some further research I came across some advantages, for example, some companies are beginning to value learning more about a prospective employees personal interests so that they can see if they would be a good fit within a team – (see, This feeds back into your point about online anonymity being detrimental to finding offline work as an employer may not like a candidate about whom they can learn very little. You mention that you have separate personal and professional online identities – considering the arguments presented above could you ever see yourself merging some of the aspects of these identities?


    1. Hi Ammaar, sorry for the delay in my response! Thank you for the article you linked it is really interesting and I feel really supports the argument that I came across in my research and made in my post with regards to increasingly merging personal and professional identities. I think you are right in that finding nothing online can be a concern to employers and the point you made about employers even using this information to find employees who are a fit for the team is really interesting and one I would not really have considered! I think it is a big argument in support of having one online identity consistent across social media and links closely to the guardian article about authenticity and how it can work in your favour on social media. I think for example even personal interests (which remain professional) such as a blog on your interest in knitting which you may not see as relevant always, could be something an employer sees as a real plus when you are applying for a job which might not directly relate because it shows you are creative and have hobbies. I think that if you maintain a level of professionalism even on these ‘personal’ profiles then it can really work in your favour or at least not work against you. I also think as you pointed out it is interesting that my approach is different to this and I think definitely having done the research for this topic I would consider merging some of my identities because I am increasingly seeing the benefit to doing this.
      Thank you for your interesting comment!


  2. abbysinclair says:

    He Ellie, loved your blog! I had to comment on yours because of the video; what a great way to get your key points on this topic across. I like your point about the difficulty in managing multiple online identities, I currently have one Facebook and Twitter account for all aspects of my life and think that is probably why. I also considered your point about anonymity being damaging. I’ve kept my Twitter account private and public in the past, it is now public because I realise that you can’t keep yourself completely private online and importantly it makes it seem as if you are hiding away from who you truly are and I think this is especially important for employers. Finally the quote you included from Costa and Torres (2011) I can definitely relate too as I mentioned in my own blog, when I Googled myself, I found my old school newsletter as being one of the top results. It’s easy for people to forget that sometimes some things will never leave you online!


    1. Hi Abby! Thank you for your interesting comment! I think you make a really good point that you can’t always (maybe ever?!) hide the parts of you online which you want to, think you have, or you didn’t even realise were there! I think that this supports the argument to take control of your identity online and manage it carefully because it is likely to be there even if you don’t. It is interesting that you say you have more like one online identity and you limit it to Facebook and Twitter which is different to some other people’s I have read, would you consider having a profile like LinkedIn and if so would this identity be the same as the one you have on Facebook and Twitter or would it be different? Why?
      Thanks again for your comment!


  3. beccalblog says:

    Hi Ellie! Love the use of your own video to kick off the topic, it really sets out the subject for the reader! It’s interesting to see that despite all the arguments you put forward in favour of having one online identity, you still believe in having multiple identities, of the professional and personal sought, which is something we have in common. I disagree with Labrecque et al. (2011) stating that ‘managing multiple online personas is difficult’. I have many different online personas but these all come naturally to me and are in no way ‘difficult to manage’ as the content I share through all of them is genuine! I really don’t think many of my Facebook friends would be appreciative of constant marketing/business-related news, and findings, whereas my twitter audience are. The online identities I have are, just like in real life, just different parts of my personality and linked to my various interests. Would you agree with Michael Zimmer’s (2010) point ‘I present myself differently when lecturing…compared to having a beer with friends’ – why would the online world be different?


    1. Hi Becca! You make a good point and I think I have changed my view as a result of doing the research for this topic and I think I will make some changes to the way I manage my online identities from now on. I think the professional/personal split seems quite intuitive to a lot of people which is one of the reasons why many of them manage them that way, including ourselves! You make some good points in support of separating the content on different social media because of your different audiences which is not something I had really considered the different profiles reflecting different parts of yourself. I think you and Zimmer (2010) are right separate does not mean inauthentic or wrong. How do you make the choice about which personas to share and which platforms to share them on?
      Thank you for your interesting comment and contribution to the discussion!


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