Have you heard of the saying, “The internet is forever”? Today, more than ever, there is a need to be concerned about the dangers of sharing personal information online. Everything is googleable – we live in a world where everything you say online is recorded and can be redistributed.
Your digital footprint matters
What is a digital footprint?
Simply stated, a digital footprint is anything and everything about you that is on the internet or on any digital device. These may be either active or passive digital footprints. An active digital footprint is one that you leave intentionally. This is not just information about you that you post on a social medial website. It includes all the image and video uploads, emails, phone calls, and chats. Add to this, a long list of websites that you’ve registered on, all the marketing and promotional emails that you’ve subscribed to, and all the forums that you’ve posted on. Conversely, a digital footprint is passive when data about you collected with your knowledge and consent. This may be through website visits, searches and so on.
Watch this video for a clearer picture of what your digital footprint/dossier is all about:
Manage Your Digital Footprint
Take a moment and think about your digital activities.
Share positive things that highlight your personality. Put things online that show people your creativity. You are allowed to express opinions but be sure not to degrade people who do not share your opinion. The key is to avoid saying anything that you wouldn’t say in person.
Managing what you’ve already got out there:
Where do you start? It can be overwhelming sometimes and so the first thing to do would be to google yourself. This will help you get an idea of how much of you is on the internet. Make a list of all the sites, including social media websites that you appear in. Go through each of them and think about what they reveal about you. Check if you can delete or report anything you’re unhappy with. You can also consider deleting your account permanently, if that is an option. If you have multiple email accounts, consider transferring them or delete the ones you no longer use.
Manage your linked accounts and authorised applications by regularly keeping a tab on all the applications and websites you’ve signed up to using your social media or email accounts. If you no longer use an application and have no intention of using it again in the short-term then revoke that application’s access to your account.
You can find information on how to do so for the following accounts:
Using the authorisation pages you can identify what application is accessing your information, what permissions it has access to, and the which company is behind it. This can be a good opportunity to investigate and find out who exactly you are sharing your information with and what they might use it for. While you might be quite trusting of and have a reasonable expectation from a larger company such as Twitter or Apple, you may want to know who “Tapbots LLC” actually are and what they do.
Do your research
Before blindly signing up for a service or application take a few minutes to do some background research on it. Read application reviews to identify any problems and gauge the usefulness of an application. Ask yourself “do I really need another camera app?” and identify if you need to sign up for any services. Google it and judge the general opinion before you decide.
Read the Terms and Conditions
OK, so you probably don’t really need or want to read the terms and conditions word for word (legal disclaimer here) but quickly look through for the key points such as who the company is, where they are based, any processes that may be listed for sharing information with third parties or how to request your information be removed, if need be.
Beware of the “Contact Me” check-boxes
When you create an account on most websites, what you might not realise is that they have a little check-box that you might want to uncheck. By default, the little check-box is checked – this means that our names, details, and photos can be used for third-party advertising. On LinkedIn, for example, you can manage this by going to setting → account → manage social advertising and de-selecting the check-box. While you’re at it, also go to email preferences and check the default settings.