Behave! What happens today will be on Facebook tomorrow

What is identity?

There is no single definitive definition of identity because of the endless parameters of its meta-physical state (Internet Society, 2011). However, the Oxford Dictionary suggests identity is “the characteristics that determine who or what a person or thing is” (Oxford University Press, 2017).

In the 21st Century, everything we do focuses around our online identity. In a social context our identity expresses everything about ourselves that our friends already know, our hobbies, interests and views on controversial news stories (Costa and Torres, 2011). However, there are some aspects of our personal life we wish to keep secret from our professional life which is where multiple online identities can help.

I certainly present myself differently online, evident through my two Twitter accounts – personal and professional. Through my professional twitter page, I focus on upholding a respectable image of my online presence, what I believe to be an advantage when applying for jobs. Whereas on my personal page I express myself as freely as I like and have built up an identity that I believe best represents myself.


My thinking behind this is neatly encapsulated in this YouTube video. 


(Jetsetshow, 2010)

According to Acas (2013) 45% of businesses use social media as a screening tool in their recruitment process with a further 40% saying they would make more use of it. However, Landau (2013) suggests that a candidate’s social profile should not be used as a “trawling exercise”. This supports Christopher Poole who argues that people are multifaceted and true identity is “prismatic” (Chen, 2011). Our identity is tailored to our environment and censored on what we do and do not want people to know which is why I believe only having one online identity is impossible as there are many identities that make up who we are, and not just one as Zuckerberg suggests (Carmody, 2011). In other words, we have one true identity and many partial identities (Internet Society, 2011).


(Internet Society, 2011)

This is supported by the Japanese proverb which suggests we have three faces.


(MyAnimeList, 2015).

An example of the third face can be seen in the article below.


(Unity Blott, 2016).

However, Zuckerberg and Poole, two of the most influential people in the debate fiercely disagree on the pros and cons of having more than one online identity. My PowToon illustrates their opposing arguments.


Below I have made an Infographic to discuss the many other arguments.


The starkest disadvantage of only having one online identity is clear, it prevents us from keeping separate the professional and the social. If Zuckerberg thinks this lacks integrity I would ask him to think of someone who acts exactly the same way at work as they do in a social setting. If the answer is nobody, then how can we expect our online identities to be any different?

Word count 406


 Acas (2013). Is social media changing how employers recruit new talent? Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

 Carmody, T. (2011) You Are Not Your Name and Photo: A Call to Re-Imagine Identity. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

 Chen, A. (2011) 4Chan’s Founder Is Right About Online Identity. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

 Costa, C. and Torres, R. (2011) ‘To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society’, Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, pp. 47-53. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

Internet Society (2011) Understanding your Online Identity. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

Jetsetshow (2010) 7 Steps to Building your Online Identity. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

Landau, P. (2013) ‘Job applications: social media profiles under scrutiny’, Guardian, 11 December. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

MyAnimeList (2015) The Japanese say you have three faces?. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

Oxford University Press (2017) Identity. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

Unity Blott. (2016) ‘Woman posts a selfie just MINUTES after having a panic attack – to reveal the truth behind her glamorous pictures’, Mail Online, 7 April. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).


 Jarvis, J. (2011) One identity or more?. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

Krotoski, A. (2012) ‘Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?’, Guardian, 19 April. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

 Zimmer, M. (2010) Facebook’s Zuckerberg: “Having tow identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity”. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).


Heckman et al. (2015) Cyber Denial, Deception and Counter Deception: A Framework for Supporting Active Cyber Defense. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

 Hunt, E. (2016) ‘What is fake news? How to spot it and what you can do to stop it’, Guardian, 17 December. Available at: (Accessed: 26 February 2017).


23 thoughts on “Behave! What happens today will be on Facebook tomorrow

  1. Hi Harriet,

    Well done on topic 2, I really enjoyed reading your post! I was very interested in how you explored the material that we were given and how you related it to your own use of social media. I too have separate social media accounts for professional and social uses. It is also interesting to explore cases where professional social media accounts can be taken as a means of inappropriate conversation. If you are interested in reading more about the topic of social media and politics here’s an article that I found interesting:

    Additionally, I enjoyed viewing all your self-produced images. Was there one method that you found more accessible than another?

    Happy Reading!


    Word Count: 117

    Silverman, M. (2011) 4 predictions for the future of politics and social media. Available at: (Accessed: 27 February 2017).


    1. Hi Mary,

      Thank you for your lovely comments! That’s really interesting to know that you also have separate accounts. I have noticed a few people discuss how they have separate accounts, so evidently this is of great concern to a number of people thus highlighting the importance of multiple identities, would you agree?

      Thank you for sharing that with me. Very interesting read! I also found this article particularly insightful and eye opening. While the majority of cases occurred on what could be argued as ‘personal’ social media accounts it is very scary how apparent the overlap of personal and professional is, with people of trust using their personal accounts (which are attached to their real ID’s) to ‘bully’ and disregard the feelings of vulnerable people. I would subsequently argue that something drastic needs to happen to stop such incidents occurring. It would seem some people aren’t even bothered about hiding behind a veil of anonymity and will continue to act in a way they know is directly linked to them!

      Thank you so much! I am very new to the world of online ‘teaching’ platforms and found them all incredibly challenging to use. I would say I found Canva the most accessible. Having tried to use Piktochart and struggling immensely I decided to scout the other blogs to see what platforms others had used and came across Canva! I definitely recommend it over Piktochart but would love to learn how to use Piktochart so if you have any hints or tips they would be greatly appreciated.

      Thanks again for your comments.



      Ornstein, C. and Huseman, J. (2015) Inappropriate Social Media Posts by Nursing Home Workers, Detailed. Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).


  2. Firstly, kudos on the infographic Harriot, it really helps get the points across.

    I like your comparison of Mark Zuckerberg and Christopher Poole and the platforms they represent. Looking at Facebook and 4Chan you can see that both approaches work, they both have thriving communities despite their difference in core values. I think while a federated identity makes for a more civil and responsible environment, anonymity has lead to good too like whistleblowing.

    The statistics about the use of social media as a screening tool was surprising and has definitively increased. I had a look to see if I could find anything more recent than Acus (2013) article and found that this screening practice is very common now [1],[2]. This has made me consider whether a lack of an online social presence is likely to disadvantage a professional career. Do you actively maintain your professional online identity to prevent it becoming stale?

    (149 words)


    1. Nikravan L. Number of Employers Using Social Media to Screen Candidates Has Increased 500 Percent over the Last Decade – CareerBuilder [Internet]. 2017 [cited 28 February 2017]. Available from:

    2. Brooks C. Social Screening: What Hiring Managers Look for On Social Media [Internet]. Business News Daily. 2017 [cited 28 February 2017]. Available from:


    1. Hi Jordan,

      Thank you! After many hair pulling teeth wrenching moments I finally managed to get my head around the infographic world!
      Interesting question! I must say my professional online identity is very basic at the moment and it is only since starting this module that I have developed my professional online identity but I agree with the articles you have shared and have begun to make a more conscious effort to build a professional online identity. I quickly realized its importance when a friend of mine landed her dream job through liaisons with the company’s director on LinkedIn. What about you? Do you like many others I have realized on the module keep your personal separate from your professional?

      I look forward to hearing your views. Thanks again for the comments.



      1. Ironically despite spending most of my life in front of a monitor I actually have a very minimal public social presence. Although this has never given me issues in the past, I am having a rethink as to whether I want to build some sort of profile as it seems that it can have a significant effect.

        I do also believe in good separation of online identity and use good judgement where to draw the line, it prevents a lot of issues while is relatively easy to do.

        Thanks for the discussion and I look forward to your future posts.


        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi there!

    Thanks for the blog post this was a really interesting read! I particularly liked the bit about how we choose to keep our professional and personal lives separate, yet pretty much everyone can get access to both types of profiles. I noticed this with your two twitter accounts – do you keep your personal one private? If not what do you believe the benefits of having two are? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

    I also thought the use of that Japanese proverb was really interesting and unusual, and definitely summed up how I feel about online identities! Overall I thought your post was really insightful and balance the two sides quite well with the graphic on points for and against having multiple online identities. One extra thing I think that could be included would be where you feel you sit in that debate, and if it’s such a clear cut divide.

    Fantastic read!



    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thank you for your lovely comments! That’s a fantastic question one I am ashamed to say will be answered with an arguably clear contradiction to my previously made points outlined in my blog post. However, while I do endeavor to keep my personal separate to my professional I feel Twitter is somewhat different to other social media platforms, such as Facebook. For me Twitter is an open hub for people to air a variety of comments and opinions and without the ability to do this freely Twitter wouldn’t be fulfilling the requirements it set out to fulfill. According to Gil (2016) “Twitter, and ‘tweeting’, is about broadcasting daily short burst messages to the world, with the hope that your messages are useful and interesting to someone” thus if your Twitter account is private and your tweets are ‘protected’ you are disabling the main purpose of the platform.

      Thank you again for your comments and really thought provoking question, please keep an eye out for my reflection as I shall most definitely be drawing upon your question within it.



      Gil, P. (2016) What Exactly is ‘Twitter’? What is ‘Tweeting’?. Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).


  4. Hi Harriet,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post! I found it presented the key information in a concise and informative way, while the use of images helped to illustrate your point. I was particularly intrigued by the point you made regarding individuals as being “tailored to our environment”. This is something I certainly agree with and I find it irrational that potential employers may expect people to behave in a uniform way throughout all aspects of their life. The following article by the Daily Mail ( presents some cases of individuals that have faced job losses following social media updates. One of the cases mentions a teacher that was forced to resign following a Facebook picture showing her drinking, which supposedly, “encourages alcohol use”. Do you personally feel that it’s fair that employers are rejecting potentially efficient employees simply based on their online profile, or do you believe that social media users should be more considerate of how they choose to present themselves online?

    Thanks, David

    Word count: 166


    1. Hi David,

      Thank you! Wow that’s another really interesting article. I sadly came across a number of similar articles in which people had lost their job at the expense of one stupid post. I happened to also have a close connection to someone that this happened to so have very strong opinions on how un fair and un law it seems.

      Personally I believe it is very un-fair, I mean we are all guilty of a glass of wine every now and then and I don’t for a second believe the person who made the decision that they should lose their job has never drank alcohol before or been caught ‘off guard’ in picture where they are seen to be drinking. It is ludicrous! If alcohol was illegal, then 100% I could understand but it’s not. Furthermore, this quote “a candidates’ profile should not be used for a “trawling exercise”, as opposed to a search for specific information directly relevant to the job” from an article in the Guardian further exemplifies my point. While I agree pictures portraying nights out binge drinking is not acceptable and could be deemed an offense etc. I don’t feel that using social media as a way to take an insight into a person’s life outside of work in a ‘social setting’ is a reasonable justification to sack someone. What do you think?

      Thanks again for your comments David, I look forward to hearing your opinion.



      1. Hi Harriet,
        Sorry for the late reply. I completely agree with what you’re saying and I find it ridiculous that social media profiles get reviewed by employers in this manner. Social media outlets should be what their name suggests, “Social”. However, it appears in this modern age, our online society is now under overwhelming surveillance, so much so that we cannot even express sides of our personality that are not entirely professional, nor can we attempt to be humorous or make light of a situation without it causing offense to one group or another. There definitely needs to be shift in people perspective because currently things are getting out of hand. Your post this week definitely gave me a lot to think about Harriet.
        Thanks, David


  5. Hi Harriet,
    The effectively Zuckerberg-Poole identity debate usefully highlights ways social and professional identity boundaries are problematically challenging to find. My personal experience using services like Facebook suggest their ‘platform functionalities’ can limit the extent users are able to divulge in ‘identity play’ users are restricted to specific person-identifiable information which sign-up forms request (firstname, surname), particularly for social Web 2.0 Internet-based social media platforms like Facebook offering a sign-up form, thus why my post argued such functionalities restrict our identities potential multiplicity. In relation to a debate I previously encountered around whether online platforms present any ‘new’ substantive qualitative changes to identity, which I think the Japanese proverb and final question about social and professional settings reflect, I wondered whether you think there are ‘qualitative’ differences emerging from using online platforms, like Facebook, that suggest users should present ‘online’ identities differently to ‘offline’ ones?


    1. Hi Will,

      Thank you for your comment! This is an extremely eye opening topic you have brought forward, one I have not seen anyone else encounter. I have never heard of ‘identity play’ so thank you for sharing your links with me and allowing me to learn something new! I will most certainly be referring to this comment within my reflection post so please keep your eye peeled.

      In response to your proposed question, upon scouting the endless parameters of the world wide web I have struggled to find any ‘new’ evidence, with the latest dating back to 2012. Needless to say this may in fact be the newest research to date and would probably explain why I have struggled to find anything more recent.

      Costa and Torres (2011) believe one’s digital identity revolves around two areas; presentation and reputation. They suggest the first refers to which ‘persona’ we choose to present when engaging with different social media sites and the later refers to what people think of you based upon your stance within said social media forums. Similarly, Enli and Thumim (2012) also focus on the distinction between presentation and reputation and suggest that engagement in such social networking sites creates a space in which the traditional boundaries of online/offline socialization are challenged.

      Take this along with a number of published articles highlighting the detrimental effects of presenting your offline identity online for your colleagues to see I would say there is a wealth of research supporting the notion of separation between offline and online identities.

      Thanks again for you comment.



      Costa, C. and Torres, R. (2011) ‘To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society’, Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, pp. 47-53. Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).

      Enli, G.S. and Thumim, N. (2012) ‘Socializing and Self Representation online: Exploring Facebook’, Observatorio Journal, 6(1), pp. 87-105. Available at: (Accessed: 3 March 2017).


      1. Hi Harriet,
        Thank you for your reply,
        I am pleased to hear identity play is an eye opener; it was something I encountered briefly in previous Sociology and Web Science modules, and thought it warranted further exploration and elaboration in relation to arguments for and against multiple identities, though, I lacked the textual space with which to do so in my original post.
        I look forward to reading your reflective post to this effect, and I too shall be referring to your posts and comments, many thanks again for these: they have produced compelling discussion and reading.
        While I can see the distinction Costa and Torres outline between our choices of representation and what other people think about this representation through a ‘reputation’ (which, I believe, highlights a similar issue we discussed in relation to V&R last week, about whether mapping visitor/residential behaviour and engagement is based on our own, or other peoples perceived, or actual digital usage), I wonder as to the extent these terms are interrelated and interdependent, and your views on this: is it such that presentation requires a reputation, or reputation that necessitates presentation, or are both required?
        I was not particularly familiar with Enli and Thumim’s work before, thank you for sharing this; I shall take a further look into it: I think the concepts raised around socializing and community are pertinent in affecting whether we are ‘for’ or ‘against’ multiple identities.
        I could provide further elaboration, if you would be interested, around these points, and some of the other points and questions I have?
        Many thanks,


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