Just like you leave footprints behind when walking along a sandy beach, you leave a trail behind when you’re online too. Whether we want to or not, we leave pieces of data behind which paints a picture of who we are which is readily available (if you know where to look).
These footprints help companies to target specific content to specific consumers, helps employers to run background checks of their employees and target advertisements depending on user needs. Everything you do online will leave some kind of trail behind.
Even though it’s not possible to have a zero digital footprint, you can definitely limit your traces if you know how they are left behind. But first let’s see what exactly a digital footprint is?
What is a digital footprint?
A digital footprint is any type of data or information that is about you or is put out by you online. This includes but not limited to,
- You’re social media
- Your websites
- Articles about you or
- The articles written by you
Some information is very easy to find, and some takes a bit of digging to do.
Your digital footprint spans through a long time (sometimes even from your birth till now). The digital footprint doesn’t just contain things that you actively post online like your Facebook posts or Instagram pictures, but information that is scraped off from you even without your knowledge. Whenever you visit a website they directly have access to your IP address which in turn can be used to pinpoint your location. Remember that anything you post or do online, is going to last forever, and forever is a pretty long time ;).
Where do you leave your footprint behind?
Websites and online stores: Usually sites leave cookies on your system which can track your movements online. This gives them the opportunity to advertise products/services which you’ve been looking for.
Social Media: All the likes, hearts, thumbs-ups, retweets all stay there forever. Think twice before taking any actions on your social media. All this information is available to the public if you haven’t set up the respective privacy settings on your accounts.
Mobile phones and tablets: Some websites keep track of the devices you use to access specific websites. While this is often used as a way to secure your accounts, it’s crucial to know what kind of data is collected.
How to keep track of my footprint?
Google yourself: Check what will appear on the first two pages to see if the content out there about you is “Ok”’ for you. Do it once every 3 months just to be safe.
Don’t send your personal information: Don’t send or post your personal information like your home address, phone number, bank details, or passwords.
Keep credentials to yourself: Keep the usernames and passwords of your accounts for yourself. Just don’t send it, it’s that simple!
Think before you post: Never post something based on your emotions. Your emotions are temporary but the internet is forever. Remember that ;).
Be careful of the pictures: Limit the sharing of pictures that seem questionable. It might seem like a good idea now but will it be okay 10 years later? Note that, once it’s out there, there’s no way of taking it back.
Leave a strong footprint behind
Now you know that whatever you post will last forever on the internet. So, take it for your advantage. Leave a good footprint behind which is a strong asset in today’s job market also. Many employers do a background check, in addition, to cover letters and resumes before giving the green light to their candidates.
The digital world isn’t going anytime soon so take advantage of the platform to present yourself from a good light.
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