Digital Identity can be defined as: The online representation of an individual within a community, as adopted by that individual and/or projected by others. An individual may have multiple digital identities in multiple communities. As we move around different web sites and digital environments, we leave small traces of ourselves along the way.
Before the 2.0 age our digital identity was spread among a relatively small amount of web pages (including the emails we sent to a public list). However, since the advent of Web 2.0 our digital identity has spread across a much larger number of sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, and so on), and it has become more and more difficult to keep track of it.
Digital identity can be either selfcreated or assigned by others. It is the online image we have of ourselves on the web created through all digital media means: blogs, websites, social networking sites, twitter, cell phones, logins or logouts, chats, creation of files, etc.
Our every interaction in the digital environment provides data on what we have performed in that environment, which is valuable in assisting behavioral targeting, personalization, targeted marketing, digital reputation and other social media or social graphing services (http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/12/mobilemarketing-privacy-tech-security-cx_ag_0113mobilemarket.html)
In other words, we have a digital footprint that is as large as the number of individuals or entities we interact with. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project (2008) these are some of the main footprints we leave on the Web about ourselves:
-Company or employer
-Home phone number
-Things we have written that have our name in it
-Pictures of us
-Groups or organizations we belong to
-Political party or affiliation
-Cell phone number
-Videos of us.
When someone looks for information about us on the Internet, they mainly belong to the following groups:
- Someone from our past or someone we have lost touch with friends
- Family members
- Work colleagues or business competitors
- Neighbors or people in our community
- Someone we have just met or we are about to meet
- Someone we are thinking about hiring or working with
- Someone we are dating or are in a relationship
Our personal data can be therefore used for different purposes, so before interacting in the digital environment we should consider all those aspects. Everything we do online is at the mercy of everybody, and can be scrutinized, valued, and used in our favor or against us.
The way we shape our digital image is likely to have significant impact on our future and our expectations (for example, it may play a significant role in our employment opportunities), so it is important to know all the possibilities and threats.