Security is Everyone's Job

Online Identity

Your online identity is the collection of information that represents you on the internet, such as your name, email address, username, password, profile picture, biographical data, preferences, interests, browsing history, and more.

How your info is used

Questionable ways your info is used

Why protecting your online identity is important

Identity Theft

Cybercriminals can steal your personal information and use it to impersonate you, access your accounts, make fraudulent transactions, or apply for credit in your name. For example, in 2017, Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the US, suffered a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people, including names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers

Online tracking

Third-party trackers, such as advertisers, analytics providers, and social media platforms, can monitor your online activity across different websites and devices, and create detailed profiles of your behavior, interests, and preferences. For example, Facebook tracks your activity on other websites and apps that use its services, such as the Like button, Facebook Login, or Facebook Pixel, even if you are not logged in or do not have a Facebook account.

Online harassment

Online trolls, bullies, stalkers, or haters can use your online identity to target you with abusive, hateful, or threatening messages, comments, or posts. They can also spread false or damaging information about you, or expose your private or sensitive information to the public, such as your photos, videos, or personal details. This is also known as doxing. For example, in 2014, a group of hackers leaked nude photos and videos of several celebrities, such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Kirsten Dunst, after hacking their iCloud accounts.

Social media also comes with its own challenges


You may be tempted to share too much information about yourself, your opinions, your feelings, or your activities on social media, without considering the potential consequences or the audience. This can make you vulnerable to identity theft, online tracking, online harassment, or unwanted attention from strangers, employers, or authorities. For example, in 2013, a teenager named Jacob Cox-Brown posted on Facebook that he had hit a car while driving drunk. His post was seen by the police, who arrested him and charged him with two counts of failing to perform the duties of a driver.

Peer pressure

You may feel pressured to conform to the expectations, norms, or trends of your social media network, such as posting certain types of content, liking or commenting on certain posts, or following or unfollowing certain accounts. This can affect your self-esteem, identity, and authenticity, as well as expose you to harmful or inappropriate content, such as violence, hate speech, or misinformation. For example, in 2019, a 17-year-old girl named Bianca Devins was murdered by a man she met on Instagram, who then posted graphic photos of her dead body on the platform. The photos were widely shared and commented on by other users, some of whom praised the killer or blamed the victim.


You may become addicted to social media, spending too much time and attention on it, at the expense of your other activities, responsibilities, or relationships. This can affect your mental health, physical health, productivity, and well-being, as well as make you more susceptible to online manipulation, persuasion, or influence. For example, in 2016, a study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that young adults who use social media frequently are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, loneliness, and low self-worth than those who use it less often.

How you can protect your identity