What’s Your Position – Do You Maintain Different Identities Online?

Originally posted at GovLoop

This morning I attended the GovDelivery Social Media Summit and an interesting question came up that got me thinking – how many identities do you have online? The question originally came up when an audience participant asked Adam Conner of Facebook if Facebook will ever allow users to create mulltiple log-ins for Facebook accounts, to make managing Facebook pages easier. Adam responded by saying no, because multiple identities on Facebook is counterintutive to the philosophy at Facebook.

The debate came up again during a panel discussion. The debate could basically be based around your privacy settings preferences on social networks. Although never directly mentioned, the panel discussions debate seemed to centered around the intuitive nature of Google+ Circles as opposed to Facebook’s more challenging privacy settings. In other words the debate can be framed:

1. You only have one identity, social media should not limit the flow of information, content and knowledge to your network (think of new Facebook social integration with Spotify and Washington Post and the challenging/confusing privacy settings to filter posts to specific groups)

2. You have different identities and your identity online should reflect each identity (Intuitive Google+ Circles, “Work Pat,” “Weekend Pat,” “Recreation Pat,” all these Pats’ interact differently within each network, so content should be customized for each)

This was a really interesting discussion that I wanted to bring back to the GovLoop community. I fall mostly into the first category. I don’t really mind if my co-workers are friends with me on Facebook, know what song I listened to on Spotify or can see what I am reading – in fact, I wish more people shared this kind of content.

Essentially, my view is if there is something that I do not want my entire network to know, I will avoid sharing it online. This is why I have always had an issue with Google+. I don’t like that I am constructing different identities for different groups of people. If there is something that I don’t want to share with my entire network, why share? There are always exceptions and discretion always needs to be used, but for the vast majority of the content I am interested in and share online, it is almost never an issue. The real issue for me is if by posting am I infringing on someones privacy, so photos and tagging in posts is something to always consider.

I am curious to know, how do your manage your identity online? Do you maintain different identities or one? Do you lean towards restricting some information or open to all?

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