Best Practices for managing virtual personae

Identity management

I am looking for information on how people manage their (multiple) Virtual Personae. First let me start by providing my definition:

Virtual Personae: the sum of the information about a person available online, provided by the the person or by others about the person, that can be uniquely assigned to the person.

From this a Public Virtual Personae would be the public information and a Private Virtual Personae would be information that is online but reasonably secured such that Googleing the person would not reveal this information.

For myself I have tried to separate my public and private Virtual Personae for some time. For example, my personal blog is the central repository about my private personae and the public pages do not reveal information I would not want a random stranger to know. Similarly on Flickr I have both public and private photos (Flickr provides 4 levels of privacy: Private > Family > Contacts > Public in terms or restriction on who can view, but may sites only offer 2 or have differing levels, there is no standard, at least not in practice.) My professional life is more restricted to LinkedIn and other such sites that have a very professional bent.

However, my Facebook page lists where I work (my mistake) and while I have two iName aliases, one for personal things (such as this site) and one for professional (today just used for contacting me) I don't seem to be very diligent at thinking about the private/public issue when I sign up for new services. Most of the time I find myself needing to go back and delete or change info. And we all know that the Internet never forgets.

My awareness of this issue is heightened by my previous work on identity and identity management. The technical difficulty of how to manage in a deterministic way entrenched behavior among people are complex. Liberty alliance, OpenID and other identity systems have mostly ignored this and left it to the Presence vendors to solve. The resulting solutions are too difficult (IMO) for most end-users to care, lack of universal adoption is also a problem. Most end-users don't bother to setup and sort of private/public or personal/professional walls, they just broadcast things into the void and hope it does not come back to bite them.

With the explosion of blogging/social networking/status broadcasting/etc. the phenomenon of the drunkfail I see this as becoming more and more of an issue. Maybe in 20 years no one will care but in the meantime failure to control ones Virtual Personae can have very real consequences.

So; What are the best practices that people recommend for dealing with Virtual Personae? Or am I making a mountain out of a mole-hill?

Best Answer

I take a much simpler approach.

Everything I post under my name I presume to be open for the whole internet. So I won't share something I'd like to keep private.

Everything I'd like to share with a select group of people I share using the privacy control of that platform.

Everything I'd like not to be associated with me, I use a separate email account and 3 or 4 different reasonably unique nicknames (using words from another language greatly helps the non google-ablity of your nickname).

Altough I don't have to problem of trying to seperate my persona for different communities.

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