Anatomy of Youth: Owning a Digital Identity – the v20 cyberteam’s take
It’s a testament to the giant influence and command the internet has on our lives that for the ‘Anatomy of Youth’ launch event seven young people have spent the afternoon locked in a basement frantically typing away. For those that haven’t been able to make it, we’re the ones in photographs looking pretty darn tired!
We were all tasked with tackling different sections of the report, and it’s fallen to us to deal with the one that covers ‘Digital Identity’. I guess we were drawn into doing it as we’re both slightly 1337. Ste Prescott, another v20 member will join me on this blog, and for future reference anything in bold can be traced back to his giant mind. Just for reference, here’s a photograph of Ste, in case you want to chase him down a street at some point.
Let’s start with breaking down the title of this section. What is a digital identity? Having read the report, and from our own experiences in the internet world (Ste is a web designer and James is Social Media Consultant) a digital identity covers a whole heap of online information, but it can be broken down into two simple types:
- Online profiles: the ‘Public Image’ we aim to project to the rest of the world
- User generated content; blogs, comments, status updates, reviews
I’m sure everyone that’s dipped their toe into the strange world of Facebook, or indeed adventured into the shameless self promotion of Twitter understands what a profile is. So for the sake of calling everyone who’s reading this a geek we’ll move on and address the concerns that come with ‘living online’ and having ‘digital identity’.
In a passing note, Jon (another v20 member) expressed a very interesting opinion in his blog “Changing Communities – The Disconnect”, he mentioned the sadness he feels that people are more invested in online communities – with individuals the other side of the world – than they are with their own communities. In a strange show of individualism, I’m going to throw out a 45% view. It’s true that we are disconnected to our local communities, but I wouldn’t say that this is a direct result of the development of online societies. Perhaps the breakdown of local communities is a result of the modern transience of families and the increased flexibility of employment. But let’s not get sidetracked!
Ste has dragged out two factoids from the report and expressed his points about them:
42% of 16-24 year olds claim to know someone who has been embarrassed about information that has been uploaded to the internet without their consent. This is pretty normal for most of us that are on Facebook, a lot of times when you sign in you’ll find yourself tagged in a bad photograph.. no one asked for your permission but it’s up there for the world to see.
60% of 14-21 year olds have never considered any potential future effects of posting personal details about themselves online. This seems to draw on the fact that we as ‘youth’ are invested far too much in the here and now, and not the potential ramifications that having this information online could bring.
The most pressing issue for us, is that young people – well in fact most people that are online – don’t realise how much information they’re giving away by being online. Facebook makes you agree to their terms and conditions when you sign up, but how many people actually read it?
The internet is now no longer a purely personal realm. Companies are researching their potential employees before hiring to make sure they fit with their businesses ethos, and a lot of people are falling foul of the internet police. Comments made in jest can lead to the loss of a job, as many political candidates in the 2010 General & Local Elections will testify.
A more worrying element is that our online profile is being monitored by a wide range of companies, some for marketing purposes others with potentially more sinister intentions. We’ll leave you with a worrying thought, the CIA now own part of Visible Technologies – one of the biggest social media monitoring companies in the world – through their investment arm In-Q-Tel…
Beware what you put online… in case it comes back to bite you!