Topic 2: The Intrinsic Link Between Identity and Privacy

Whilst on the Web today, it is very likely that at least one of the websites you visit will ask you to register. This allows web-based businesses to index personal information and over time add to it in order to build an online profile (Internet Society, 2015). Though this sounds very intrusive: having personal information collected and stored without your knowing, it can benefit you. It provides a personalised experience, offers product recommendations and helps to prevent fraud. However, understandably having any form of online identity results is speculation over privacy and security.

Maintaining one online identity is relatively easy, it simply reflects who I say I am. However, it is often argued that having multiple online identities allows for anonymity and creativity (Krotoski, 2012). These identities tend to be split into private and public, as this allows you to present yourself differently depending on your audience. For example, a recent survey by Acas found that 45% of employees today are screened through social media (Landau, 2013). In this case, having a public identity to present yourself to employers and a private identity for you friends, could help you retain your reputation.


Zuckerberg claims that Facebook is “built on real relationships, with real people, in real life” (Jarvis, 2011).

This is somewhat true in my case, as all my personal information is accurate and I know everyone I’m friends with. However, up until recently I hadn’t updated my Facebook identity since I created it, my details were minimal and out of date. Does this mean that its not entirely based on reality? What if I am involuntarily tagged in things or someone invites me to something – this suggests that other people can affect my identity.

Often individuals who lack confidence and self-esteem will create identities based on their ‘real’ self and their ‘ideal’ self (Jarvis, 2011). These individuals are more aware of the possible social and cultural judgements that may follow, depending on the characteristics they disclose (Costa and Torres, 2011). However, in creating multiple identities do we lack integrity? Conceivably, developing multiple personae encourages an irresponsible environment, in which cyber bullying can take place as a faceless crime. With this in mind, how much can we trust others online, if we ourselves aren’t being honest? Once again this comes back to the intrinsic link between privacy and identity.



Costa, C. and Torres, R. (2011) To Be or Not To Be? The Importance of Digital Identity in the Networked Society, University of Salford, UK.

Internet Society (2015) Privacy and Identity, Accessed: February 2015.

Jarvis, J. (2011) One Identity or More? Accessed: February 2015.

Krotoski, A. (2012) Online Identity: Is Authenticity or Anonymity More Important? The Guardian, Accessed: February 2015.

Landau, P. (2013) Job Applications: Social Media Profiles Under ScrutinyAccessed: February 2015.


6 thoughts on “Topic 2: The Intrinsic Link Between Identity and Privacy

  1. Reading your blog I discovered that you have argued the topic in quite broad way. I have only limit my discussion of “having more than one online identity” on social network profiles, while you have taken into account that any registration on everyday websites that people visit are all different online identities. It is a great argument that you have opened, but if I was to agree with that I have to first ask the question that, don’t you think the web is full of anonymous and out of date identities? Because web users use registering for many website they visit including the online shopping sites, as a stage to get to their goal, and they normally do it with inputting fake details. Once they achieved their goal they forget about the account they made and may never return back. This makes the web full of fake and out of date identities, which doesn’t correspond, to real people.


    • You make a really good point Saber. I suppose the Web full of anonymous identities, most of which are set up in order to ‘achieve a goal’ and are never returned to. However, I was perhaps more interested in the few anonymous identities created specially for negative purposes, such as cyber bullying and fraud. By creating false identities, individuals are able to bully others without being discovered. Though this is not always the case, it does bring into question the lack of privacy and security on the Web.


  2. Hi Hayley,

    You bring up a couple of interesting points in your blog here:
    One is talking about how people can invite you to certain events and other things on facebook, which may well be public, and opens up the thought of whether people will be able to see more about myself through my links with others on facebook, which can at times take your own privacy out of your hands. Especially with things like group photos, you know that your face will probably end up on the newsfeed of all the other people in the photo, whether you want it to or not!
    I also wonder about the idea of multiple identities correlating with a lack of integrity. I feel that humans are complex, and that it would be almost impossible to sum up most people in one way. I don’t believe that we are losing integrity when we show different people different sides to ourself, but perhaps that it is unrealistic to show the same sides of yourself in front of your family or significant other that you may with your friends.



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