What is a Digital Footprint?
A digital footprint is a trail of data you create while using the Internet. In includes thewebsites you visit, emails you send, and information you submit to online services.
A “passive digital footprint” is a data trail you unintentionally leave online. For example, when you visit a website, the web server may log your IP address, which identifies yourInternet service provider and your approximate location. While your IP address may change and does not include any personal information, it is still considered part of your digital footprint. A more personal aspect of your passive digital footprint is your search history, which is saved by some search engines while you are logged in. – (TechTerms.com)
A digital footprint provides data on what has been preformed in the digital environment, and that data can be used in behavioral targeting & economics, personalisation, targeted marketing, digital reputation, social influence and social media or social graphing services. In Social Media a digital footprint can refer to the size of a persons “online presence” measured by the number of individuals by whom they interact. (Wikipedia)
Whenever you click, search, like, share, tweet etc. you deepen your digital footprint even further.
How to Audit Your Digital Footprint:
We are the first generation of people that have to worry about our online reputation. What we do today and everyday is recorded and stored without any expiration date or delete button. Something posted as a teen online or via social networks may still be accessible and may come back to haunt you when applying for a first job or seeking promotion.
That is why it is important to audit your digital footprint and find out what the web is sharing about you.
Google Search Yourself
You should do a Google search of yourself at least once every six weeks. Google your name, your name and area you live in, your name and education and your name and current or previous employments. This is to get an accurate picture of what information the Internet has about you. Search images, news, videos, web and articles. Click into any content you can find and take note of whether you think it is good or bad for your online reputation.
Did you know? 87% of the information about us on the Internet, we have provided it? So if you don’t like what Google says about you, then it’s up to you to provide it with more relevant or impressive material!
Top Tip: Go Incognito!
Turn on privacy mode or “private browsing” or “incognito mode“. This is a privacy feature in some web browsers to disable browsing history and your web cache (memory). This allows you to browse the Web without storing local data that could be retrieved at a later date. Click here to follow the steps to search Google. This will give you a more accurate account of what people see when they Google your name.
Expand Your Search
After doing a search of yourself on Google expand your research and repeat the steps but this time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and don’t forget other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo.
Screenshot any content related to you that you find, either save it in a ‘Digital Footprint’ folder or print it put a hardcopy ‘Digital Footprint’ folder together.
Tip: If you get a chance search yourself on a computer you have never used before, the search engine my find cotent you haven’t seen before.
Why Does Your Digital Footprint Matter?
It matters because peers, parents, teachers, acquaintances, employers and prospective employers can all ‘judge’ or give an opinion about you based on the digital footprint you have. It is important when deepening your digital footprint that you ask yourself how you want others to see you and act in a way that your Digital footprint will show this.
Managing Your Digital Footprint
Your digital footprint requires constant upkeep, but you only need to follow these few simple steps to keep it in the order you would like:
1. Continue searching yourself every six weeks and save any new content you find related to you.
2. Set up a Google Alert so that if any content related to you is published on the Internet you will be sent an email notification.
3. Manage your privacy settings properly, this will narrow the chance of content from your social networking accounts appearing if someone searches you. Here’s another blog post I wrote on privacy settings.
4. Buy your own domain name (e.g. www.joannesweeneyburke.ie) and start a Blog, this will deepen your Digital Footprint and will also push any unwanted search results related to you further back.
5. Always remember nothing you do or share online is completely private.