The government’s chief scientist has published a report saying that social networks are ‘re-defining’ social identity.

Professor Sir John Beddington says that over the next decade, the fabric of society will change, with identity in its traditional sense becoming less important.

The report was commissioned as part of the Government Office for Science’s Foresight programme, reported bbc.co.uk.

The changes will be fuelled by nearly constant access to the internet, a phenomenon that the report called ‘hyper-connectivity’. The changes could serve as a positive force in society, but if ignored, could fuel exclusion.

The report, entitled ‘Future Identities’ said: “This can be a positive force, exemplified by the solidarity seen in the London 2012 Olympics or a destructive force, for example the 2011 riots.”

The study claimed that the lines between work and home would become increasingly blurred as social media content increasingly found its way into the public domain.

Rather than people living out fantasy identities, which critics of social media fear might happen, the report said that social media was in fact allowing people explore their personalities in a safe environment.

“The internet can allow many people to realise their identities more fully. Some people who have been shy or lonely or feel less attractive discover they can socialise more successfully and express themselves more freely online,” said the report, available on bis.gov.uk.