Who are you? Online identity comes in many different personas

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What makes each of us unique is not one specific characteristic. And so it’s not surprising that as the idea of an online identity continues to evolve, we all have different virtual personas that represent us, in varying levels of detail.

“Most definitions of identities have to be used in the context of the application,” Jose Caldera, IdentityMind vice president of marketing and product, explained on the State of Identity podcast. “So what your identity says for a dating site might be different than what it is for a banking application.”

Those identities can be based on a number of factors, including what users are willing to share on the web versus what service providers need to know in order to conduct business.

To that end, Caldera gave the example of e-commerce transactions — a type of online business where users don’t share a lot of information about themselves.

Apple may not have a significant need to invest money into identifying who is buying a song on iTunes. But for a bank reviewing a loan application, the need to verify identity is obviously much greater.

And so identity can be defined online as a collection of attributes, whether they encompass something as impersonal as a mobile device or as specific as a fingerprint. Risk level will help determine how much an institution needs to know about the customer and their identity, while customers too can vote with their dollars — or in some cases the level of personal information they are willing to provide.

Because just as you wouldn’t put your Social Security number on your Tinder profile, you probably wouldn’t want your mortgage broker to see photos from your 2013 trip to Las Vegas.

For more, subscribe to the State of Identity podcast on iTunes, and hear new episodes on One World Identity every Thursday.