Identity Crisis within Social Media

19 Jul,2021



By Indrani Sen


Indrani SenThe discussions about the identity crisis faced by the users of social media, particularly the younger generation, started almost from the inception of social media. Lately researchers, academics and industry watchers have been talking about other identity crisises within the social media. The first crisis relates to managing one’s identity on the internet across various work related and social media related accounts/ apps and it is often said that if a person has more than a dozen of such accounts with different IDs and passwords then the person needs a ‘password manager’. A movement has ben going on for some time advocating for an unique identity per every consumer on internet which will enable them to acces all internet accounts with the same ID and password. However, this may lead to a breach of trust between consumers and their individual internet accounts as all personal information shared by them on any account can be accessed through their unique identities.


The second crisis is the intense identity aggregation of consumers by Google and Facebook which has started pushing some internet users from the two giants to other anonymous platforms. For the purpose of marketing through their networks Google and Facebook create such aggregated buckets of identities which many consumers find unacceptable.


The third and perhaps the biggest crisis is the loss of identity of different social networks / apps which has emerged during the last 5 due to the blatant copying or adopting of features of another social network. Last week I listened to an interesting podcast on talking about “…. what Facebook has become and is trying to be, what to make of social media platforms looking more and more alike, and which of these “copycat” moves might strike gold. We then talk about the significance of Nextdoor going public, how India’s social media content liability laws could impact Twitter (and others), and some changes as to what advertisers can, and can’t, do on social media.” The podcast can be accessed through the following link



There is an extensive list of services/ features which have been copied since their introduction in one social media platform by others. In 2010 Instagram launched with the feature “double tap to heart react”. Instagram copied Snapchat’s stories feature first which was followed by Facebook adopting the same application from Instagram. In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram and adopted the “heart react” feature from Instagram. In 2015, Twitter replaced it “star react” feature with “heart react”. In 2019 Linkedin introduced a set of “react” features including the “heart react”. There are many more such examples.


In the digital age, we have seen a shift of power from organisations to consumers which has been labelled as ’transformed consumer contexts’ by Neil Perkin and Peter Abraham in their book titled Building the Agile Business Through Digital Transformation. Consumers once experiencing once a satisfactory service or a tool on a social network, expect the same capability from all other social media networks. As a result, this trend of extensively copying from each other has started in the social media sector for winning over the consumers. This trend has attracted lot of criticism as it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate among the social media platforms, but no immediate solution for countering this trend is in sight for reversing the identity crisis within social media.



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