current poll has been causing a bit of water cooler discussion amongst the Read/WriteWeb authors. The question we're asking in the poll is: in your current Web activities where an identity is required (i.e. you can't be anonymous) do you ever fake all or part of your identity?Our
After 511 votes so far, an astonishing 55% of respondents say they regularly or always use fake Web identities. Just 12% of people said they always use their real identity. Remember we're specifically asking about the times when you use an identity rather than being simply anonymous - so for example if you use online dating sites, peer-to-peer transactions sites such as craigslist or ebay, and general social networking sites like MySpace and Second Life.
One thought amongst the R/WW authors was that the poll might be a bit too general. Indeed the poll results reminded me of a comment made on an earlier R/WW post (by Jitendra Gupta) about Throwaway Identities. This is an extract from the comment I'm referring to, which was made by a 19-year old:
"I think there's two areas that need to be treated separately:
1 - Teenage social things like myspace, IM, video games etc.
2 - Serious things where someone can ruin your career or life by stealing your identity.
In the second area a system like openID is needed, but in the first it's fun to change your identity and it's even part of the experience."
So perhaps the Web is encouraging people, particularly the younger generation, to experiment with identity in social networks and the like. That it's all part of the Web experience these days. But when it comes to 'serious' things, like buying and selling on eBay, then people will use their real identities.
What do others make of the poll results so far? 55% of people regularly or always faking their Web identity seems quite high, but is it just a reflection of the current era of the Web - which is mostly about socializing and entertainment? Also perhaps faking your Web identity is just plain common sense on social networks and social blogs, because who knows if what you write today will bite you in the bum 10-15 years down the line.
Pic by miss.chaos