Multiple User Names Toggle
The ability to alternate between usernames associated with different accounts—i.e. personal versus professional —that may be tied to the same master account.
How does this mitigate hate?
Allowing a user to toggle between a professional and personal identity – that may be both tied to the same underlying account, allows the professional to keep their personal information out of the public and away from potential harassers. This gives the user control over who sees what data under different contexts.
When to use it?
Use when a user is about to participate and wants to change the display of their attribution.
Use when a person needs to differentiate between a public or professional self and a personal self in the same platform.
How to use it?
Don’t make the display name the same as the user login. Doing this gives phishers and other nefarious persons half of a user’s login information. You should provide a safe place for people to connect, and guarding their login and personal information is critical.
In contexts that require it, allow a user to post using an alternate, separate identity, for example a professional identity versus a personal one..
Enable users to create distinct personal and professional identities, which could coexist within a single account or exist as multiple accounts.
Users should be able to toggle easily between identities, adjust privacy and safety settings for each, and—crucially—migrate or share audiences between identities.
Provide the means to post in a “publicly anonymous” way to reduce the need for additional, separate identities.
Giving users the ability to carefully craft their identity—whether user name, profile information or other information—allows people to be selective with who they share that information with and how that information is presented. Users are quite skilled at slicing their identities up depending on the context of interaction. For example, who you are in your family is different than the slice of yourself you present at the office. Online it’s no different.
The ability to hide behind pseudonyms or anonymity is a feature that harassers and extremists may take advantage of in order to harass other individuals. For every feature offering safety, there will be people who take advantage of those features to create harm.
While both Instagram and Twitter allows users to have multiple accounts and to easily toggle between them, this is different than switching between user names on the same account. This is a step towards multi-name management for the same account but currently still requires separate accounts to be created. (screenshots May 2022)
Crumlish, Christian, and Erin Malone. Designing Social Interfaces : Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience. 2nd ed. Sebastopol, Ca: O’Reilly Media, Inc., August, 2015. pp 59-63; 112-117.
Matias, J.Nathan. “The Real Name Fallacy.” Coral by Vox Media, January 3, 2017. https://coralproject.net/blog/the-real-name-fallacy/.
van der Nagel, Emily. 2018. “Alts and Automediality: Compartmentalising the Self through Multiple Social Media Profiles”. M/C Journal 21 (2). https://doi.org/10.5204/mcj.1379.
Vilk, Viktorya, Elodie Vialle, and Matt Bailey. “No Excuse for Abuse: What Social Media Companies Can Do Now to Combat Online Harassment and Empower Users.” Edited by Summer Lopez and Suzanne Nossel. PEN AMERICA. PEN America, March 31, 2021. https://pen.org/report/no-excuse-for-abuse/.
York, Jillian C. “A Case for Pseudonyms.” Electronic Frontier Foundation, July 29, 2011. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/07/case-pseudonyms.
Young, Kaliya “Identity Woman. “Identity and Context: People and Personal Data,” 2012.