In the new digital world we all have digital identities exposed through various forms or medium such as email, instant messaging, forums and social media like Linked-in and Facebook etc. Each of these forms represents a digital version of you. Now I don’t know about you but I care how I look in the real world and I also care about how I look in the digital world. But like in the real world I don’t like to mix these identities, I am different person down the pub with my mates compared to how I am with a customer at work. But with the prevalence of social media this line is getting blurred and this has consequences.
Over the last several years there have been plenty of examples of where a personal identity is exposed to a work related identity and this can result one of many problems such as divorce, loss of job, loss of integrity and legal issues.
Below is a Venn diagram showing how my digital identities relate.
Notice how some of the media overlap. Facebook is clearly personal but there is some crossover with my Twitter account.
This is a bad example of relating digital identities.
So where do you draw the line in sharing this always on permanent record of yourself?
Some social media actually encourage you share these identities between platforms for example Linked-in allows you to share Twitter messages. But do you really want your work colleagues to know that you just ate at a certain restaurant?
So how do we stop blurring the lines between personal and private identities?
Consider under which identity to share information
You have something to share but who should you share it with? Is it work related or personal? You wouldn’t post your latest holiday pictures on Linked-in and by contrast you wouldn’t post work related information on Facebook, at least I hope not.
Consider who you let into your network
What is the use of the medium? Is it to let your friends know that you will be down the pub at 6pm of that you are looking for another job in nuclear physics? Don’t befriend your boss on Facebook but also don’t let your mate Steve send inappropriate jokes to your work email.
Consider what the medium is to be used for
Is it used for personal business like keeping in contact with friends or work associated? A Facebook account is clearly personal but what about your Twitter account? Is that personal or work related?
Consider the security of the medium
Who owns and manages the medium? What are your rights and privileges? Email may stay private but blog posts are public.
Consider the availability and data retention of the medium
Will the post you made to someones Twitter account be available in 5 years time? That newsgroup post you made 10 years ago slating company X definitely will be. Your views in your original post may have changed but will this information be publicly available? Will it affect your next job interview?
Consider each of these when using the medium in question and you can’t go wrong.
Happy messaging in what ever form you choose.