Internet identity (also called IID), or internet persona is a social identity that an Internet user establishes in online communities and websites. It can also be considered as an actively constructed presentation of oneself. Although some people choose to use their real names online, some Internet users prefer to be anonymous, identifying themselves by means of pseudonyms, which reveal varying amounts of personally identifiable information. An online identity may even be determined by a user’s relationship to a certain social group they are a part of online. Some can even be deceptive about their identity.
In some online contexts, including Internet forums, online chats, and massively multiplayer online role-playing games(MMORPGs), users can represent themselves visually by choosing an avatar, an icon-sized graphic image. Avatars are one way users express their online identity.Through interaction with other users, an established online identity acquires a reputation, which enables other users to decide whether the identity is worthy of trust.Online identities are associated with users through authentication, which typically requires registration and logging in. Some websites also use the user’s IP address or tracking cookies to identify users.
The concept of the self, and how this is influenced by emerging technologies, are a subject of research in fields such as education, psychology and sociology. The online dis inhibition effect is a notable example, referring to a concept of unwise and uninhibited behaviour on the Internet, arising as a result of anonymity and audience gratification.
Identity expression and identity exposure
The social web, i.e. the usage of the web to support the social process, represents a space in which people have the possibility to express and expose their identity in a social context. For example, people define their identity explicitly by creating user profiles in social network services such as Facebook or LinkedIn and online dating services. By expressing opinions on blogs and other social media, they define more tacit identities.
The disclosure of a person’s identity may present certain issues related to privacy. Many people adopt strategies that help them control the disclosure of their personal information online. Some strategies require users to invest considerable effort.
The emergence of the concept of online identity has raised many questions among academics. Social networking services and online avatars have complicated the concept of identity. Academia has responded to these emerging trends by establishing domains of scholarly research such as techno self studies, which focuses on all aspects of human identity in technological societies.
Online activities may affect our offline personal identity, as well.
Online social networks like Facebook and MySpace allow people to maintain an online identity with some overlap between online and real world context. These identities are often created to reflect a specific aspect or ideal version of themselves. Representations include pictures, communications with other ‘friends’ and membership in network groups. Privacy control settings on social networks are also part of social networking identity.
A discussed positive aspect of virtual communities is that people can now present themselves without fear of persecution, whether it is personality traits, behaviours that they are curious about, or the announcement of a real world identity component that has never before been announced.
This freedom results in new opportunities for society as a whole, especially the ability for people to explore the roles of gender and sexuality in a manner that can be harmless, yet interesting and helpful to those undertaking the change. Online identity has given people the opportunity to feel comfortable in wide-ranging roles, some of which may be underlying aspects of the user’s life that the user is unable to portray in the real world.
Online identity has a beneficial effect for minority groups, including ethnic minority populations, people with disabilities, etc. Online identities may help remove prejudices created by stereotypes found in real life, and thus provide a greater sense of inclusion.
Online identity and user’s rights
The future of online anonymity depends on how an identity management infrastructure is developed.Law enforcement officials often express their opposition to online anonymity and pseudonym, which they view as an open invitation to criminals who wish to disguise their identities. Therefore, they call for an identity management infrastructure that would irrevocably tie online identity to a person’s legal identity]; in most such proposals, the system would be developed in tandem with a secure national identity document. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has stated that the Google+ social network is intended to be exactly such an identity system. The controversy resulting from Google+’s policy of requiring users to sign in using legal names has been dubbed the “nymwars”.
Online civil rights advocates, in contrast, argue that there is no need for a privacy-invasive system because technological solutions, such as reputation management systems, are already sufficient and are expected to grow in their sophistication and utility.