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Your digital footprint, unlike a footprint in the sand, cannot be erased by a sweeping tide or gust of wind. Your digital footprint will stay around for a lot longer than you might realise. According to Kidsmart, the term "digital footprint", quite simply, refers to data or information that you leave behind on the internet both intentionally and unintentionally.
Although you might be pleased with the information you post about yourself on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, you may not realise that you are also leaving a digital trail of your internet activity. This trail is called your “passive footprint". Unlike your “active footprint” which refers to information that you have intentionally posted online, your “passive footprint” refers to data traces that are left by others or gathered through activities that the user does without deliberately putting out data. Examples of this may include certain website visits, searches and online purchases. A consequence of this may be, for example, that the adverts that pop on your Facebook page will resemble your recent internet browser history. In this case, the websites that you have browsed have tracked your activity and then use Facebook as a site to remarket their products or services to you.
In other words, your digital footprint provides the cyber-world with a digital version of yourself. So what can you do to make sure that both your active and passive footprints portray an accurate online representation of who you are – or at the very least what you want it to portray.
Here are some things you might want to post when creating your active footprint:
- Your interests and activities
- Posts that highlight your personality and characteristics
- Accurate representations of yourself, your friends and family
Things you don’t want to post when creating your active footprint:
- Inappropriate pictures of yourself and your friends
- Posts that degrade others
- Posts with bad grammar and punctuation
- Posts that will tarnish your digital reputation in any way.
Even though your passive footprint is made up of your unintentional digital trail, there are still steps that you can take to make sure that you aren’t leaving behind any unwanted traces. These are:
- Check your privacy settings on each of your social media sites. Log out of social media sites when done.
- Keep your personal information personal. Don’t post or save it online.
- Be cautious about who you connect with.
Also, remember to be cautious about the passive footprint you may be creating about others when you post about them on your social sites.
How to check your current digital footprint?
· Google your name and see what information about you is available online. If there is any information like your cell phone number or other contact details, clean them off the database by going to the source of the information.
· Clear out all your old social media accounts. Dormant social pages still contain information about you that you might not want your future boss or children to see.
· And as mentioned above, be tech savvy about your privacy settings on all of your social sites.