What is a Digital Footprint?
A digital footprint is the impression created when surfing the web, interacting with others, and publishing content. In other words, it is the trace of data left behind intentionally and unintentionally while browsing the internet. When a visited site leaves a cookie in the browser, it contributes to your digital footprint. This article contains information about the digital footprint.
Types of Digital Footprints
This data tracking is your records of posts on social media platforms, private correspondence (eg e-mail), websites visited, and even online purchases. There are two main classifications of digital footprints as active and passive. An active footprint can be defined as the deliberate data track left behind by a person. To give an example of active footprint:
- Send an email to someone (if someone wants to see them)
- publishing a blog
- Posting on social media platforms (eg, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, Tweet, Facebook status update and Instagram photo uploading
- Filling in forms that include a subscription to emails or text updates
A passive footprint means that an individual will be defined as unintentional traces created on the internet. To give an example of a passive footprint:
- Using apps and websites that use geolocation to determine where a user is
- Browse products and events that advertisers have compiled and analyzed to create a user’s profile and that provide targeted advertisements.
How Your Digital Footprint Is Used and Why Is It Important?
There are many reasons to be concerned with the size of the digital footprint and how it represents the user. Publicly disclosed data makes the user vulnerable to internet fraud (eg identity or data theft), unwanted requests from organizations and companies, and damage to personal reputation. Search results for the user’s name or the name of the organization can be considered as part of your digital footprint.
77% of potential employers use search engines such as Google to screen their candidates, and 35% of these employers admit that they exclude a candidate based on information they find online. So, what kind of content do employers least prefer to see on their candidates’ online profiles and history? Having any of the following in the digital footprint can make 45 to 85% of employers and recruitment committees negative responses.
- Reference of illicit drug consumption
- Documented alcohol consumption
- References to weapons
- Use of profanity
- Even poor spelling and grammar
- Mugshots (arrest picture)
Continuing on the same chain of employment, it would be useful to highlight the situations where inappropriate and unfiltered behavior on social media leads to premature dismissal. Everyone has come across such a story once or twice, and there are instances where numerous professionals lost their positions for the following reasons.
- Leaking confidential information like a Young Marketing Manager sharing a new client ahead of time before their official launch
- Writing biased articles (for example, racist or sexist), such as the Director of Communications, who establish an inexplicable link between the AIDS epidemic and race
- Posting inappropriate content (eg nudity or drug use) referring to drug purchases on school grounds, such as a public school teacher
- Complaining or insulting employers, customers, or stakeholders, for example when a marketer insults customers using profanity
As a result, our digital footprint clearly affects professional opportunities.
How Can the Digital Footprint be Managed?
There are some steps to ensure that the digital footprint does not share more information than desired. These steps are as follows:
Setting Alerts for Future Notifications by Searching Its Name From Different Search Engines
First and foremost, it is necessary to determine what information is circulating on the internet before worrying about managing and protecting the digital footprint. Many people are surprised by the results obtained, for example, they can view the history of their residential addresses and phone numbers on the Internet, including the most current versions of both. Once he has identified the details that bother him, he can begin removing negative content. Creating an alert using Talkwalker or Google alerts notifies itself of new content that is emerging, making future management easier.
Having Different E-Mail Addresses
Just like keeping business and personal finance separate, digital assets need to take the same precautions. Thus, professional and personal accounts are not associated with each other automatically. It has become commonplace for hiring managers to use social accounts linked to an e-mail address. By using a separate business email, one more degree of distinction can be made between their personal social profiles and their corporate image. This will protect the points where hackers use their catch-all emails to prevent them. Different email addresses are also helpful in case of data breach. When bad guys crack a database, they look for email and password combinations. If it uses different email addresses, it makes it difficult for hackers to match one account of the person to another. One way to do this is to create a capture-all email address if the person has their own website domain. Whether or not the person finds their social profiles in recruiting is entirely another matter, but having secondary email accounts is another step or barrier for them to find profiles.
Making Privacy Settings on Social Media Platforms
Creating privacy settings and organizing contacts so they can access social media streams are useful in creating boundaries between private and public spaces. Of course, there are a few caveats that fit this statement. The first is to understand the exact settings each platform has to take advantage of them. Second, it must be admitted that environments are not infallible, as courts have decided that specific materials are discoverable if appropriate.
Being Careful in All Activities and Avoiding Excessive Sharing
The Internet has an incredibly long memory, so only content that matches the impression of your family, bosses, and other stakeholders are asked to see should be published. Staying away from negative comments and suspicious images, and supporting a positive and polite image online should be shared.
What Are the Benefits of a Positive Digital Footprint?
The digital footprint is a big part of the personal brand or reputation created online. The digital footprint is a concept worth spending time to ensure that it is an accurate representation of the person and their work. Having a positive digital footprint can provide the following benefits:
- Increased opportunity: People are more likely to trust the user and their brand, which can lead to better growth opportunities.
- Higher profits: Brands managed by high reputations online can sell their products more easily when selling them. Because most people tend to spend time on the internet. This is a situation that makes them more likely to buy and recommend the user to others.
- Less risk: People move around in crowds and if the digital footprint is bad, they may perpetuate a negative emotion that can be difficult to overcome.
- Protecting their reputation: If the user has proven themselves to be a positive and beneficial part of the community, there is a better chance that someone with a negative digital footprint can escape a scandal.
Today, internet access is at the top level in every sector and field. With a positive digital footprint, it can be easier to seize many opportunities by engaging in online activities and interactions. However, if it is negative, it should not be overlooked in the opportunities to be missed.
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