How to understand a social identity network?
Probably the idea of a new type of social network seems incredible to you. There is already a lot of variety in that field: Facebook, Tinder and Twitter are quite different from each other, not to mention weird apps like Botnet, where robots flatter you. What would be the surprise factor of a social identity network?
To understand this concept, we are going to explore three terms: identity, social network and social identity.
What do we understand as identity?
Identity is the set of elements that make the individual distinguish himself among his peers. The term has a wide use from several approaches and disciplines.
From a legal point of view, identity is represented by a series of documents, depending on the country, such us passport, driver’s license, identity card, social security document, etc.
But in fact the legal documents do not identify the person in all the extent of his individuality. This form of identification is delimited by the interests of the authority that generates it. That is, it translates the human and social condition into a group of fields: name and surnames, identity number, passport or social security number, date of birth, country and city of residence, address of domicile, etc.
Identity could be related to a psychological concept: self-awareness. According to the philosophy described in the Rosenthal and Rudin Philosophical Dictionary, man is not only a name and a set of legal data. An individual is his relationship with the world, his conduct, his acts, thoughts and feelings, his desires and interests.
A part of our identity is online
Currently, there are many facets peoples lifes being collected only from their online activity. Perhaps the best example of this is Google. Everything you search also tells to that American company your likes and dislikes, aspirations, interests and much more.
Considering the large amount of data that can be related to a person in the digital society, each individual already has a more comprehensive identity than a document with some predetermined fields. The only problem is that the user has little control over it. Something undoubtedly absurd in a free society.
What are social networks?
In sociology, a social network is a social structure composed of actors (individuals or organizations). Their links and the interactions between them.
In computer science, a social network platform is not too different. It is an online service where each user houses a part of their identity in the form of personal information and their own content. Furthermore, it offers the possibility of social interaction beyond physical contact and geographical barriers.
Social media’s often use different algorithms to make the online identities of the users. Sometimes even from scratch. Which means you don’t make your identity yourself in a conscious way. All of this happens in a way that the user usually doesn’t understand…so if you didn’t get any of it, it’s completely normal.
How do technology companies manage to engage people in such an agreement? They create attractive features that make users remain active on their platform, guaranteeing optimal data collection, which in turn allows them to take advantage of it.
Individual, identity and virtual society
An essential issue to support the formation of virtual identities is the social contribution. Many will ask: if personal data represents a set of information that individualizes each person, why are virtual social networks one of the best scenarios to host them? At this point, it is essential to consider the influence of society on human beings..
According to psychology, each person has 3 “Selves”:
- The first would be what the person thinks about himself.
- The second would be what others think about that person.
- The third would be what the individual believes that people think about him.
After analyzing these three aspects, becomes clear that a fundamental aspect in our identity is the society that perceives us.
What is the social identity?
The identity of each individual is constructed by their peers, and at the same time each person contributes to define others. All people have an identity determined by the society to which they belong.
The researcher Henri Tajfel defines social identity as the very essence of social groups. People categorize others, locating them within a certain category of individuals. To make this category, they rely on certain aspects related to others: for example, origin, training or interests. Many times, this perception is influenced by such subjective aspects as self-esteem or stereotypes.
So what shapes the identity of an individual? Does a person enlarge their virtual profile only when they enter data in a form thoroughly? The answer is NO: this post reveals how information is shared in an unconscious way on social networks.
Of course, this construction would be impossible based on uncertain or simply incomplete information.
But it is human to have secrets, or to try to be perceived by others through a chosen selection of elements that make up our life. More than human, this segmentation is necessary to preserve individuality and freedom. An embarrassing health condition or incident should not be the lynchpin of the online identity of a person throughout its life.
However, today things work differently, Monica Lewinski explains it very well in this talk: The challenge is to build an identity that is unfalsifiable, universal, versatile, complete and reliable, but that at the same time does not escape our absolute control.
Social identity network: empowerment and control for the user
This type of network can be conceived and used in classical ways, with the types of interaction to which each digital user is used to. But its goal would be completely different.
The main priority of this platform will be that all information available on it is verified. For this, it gives special importance to the social interpretation of these data.
Correctly validated information is the best way to build an identity around its rightful owner.
The broader the description that the individual makes of himself, the more credible and unfalsifiable his identity will be.
The identity depends on the will of its bearer. But it will be universal, being able to cover all aspects of your life if the user decides so. It will include basic elements such as physical characteristics, even other intangibles such as hobbies, religion or professional information.
This control has several user-friendly dimensions:
- Categorization and organization of each piece of his/her information.
- Defining the privacy level of your data. Which may in some cases can even deprive the network itself of accessing the fields you decide not to disclose
- Participation in the benefits that the management of personal data can provide to the platform, which reaffirm the user’s status of legitimate owner of his information
A social identity network gives the user the freedom to manage their personal data, in such a comprehensive way that it can be considered an online identity repository. And that data, in return, will be verified and validated from the contribution of people that surround the user that provides said data.
Today, a tool with such characteristics is not available to the user, but that will change soon. FySelf will be the first social identity network in the world. Join up