Minimizing Your Digital Footprint, By Mokshita M, VA
Updated: Jan 30, 2021
Today there are more than 3 million people using the internet. As the internet users are increasing by the day, so is each of their digital footprints. Digital footprint is the information about a person by their activity online. It can be their emails, searches, texts, account information, and plenty more (Stare, 2020). Users online also send job profiles and blog about their lives over the web (Hengstler, 2011). There are two types of digital footprint, active and passive. An active digital footprint is when someone retrieves data from your passwords, posts, or cookies. Having a passive digital footprint is when data you left behind unknowingly is picked up by someone without your knowledge (Stare, 2020).
Your digital footprint is like your online profile or reputation. Recruiters can gather information about you just about anywhere on the internet (Ryan, 2011). To find and map out your own digital footprint, you can Google yourself on multiple search engines or go through all the social networks you have signed up for (Smith, 2014). Having a huge digital footprint makes your account more susceptible to malware programs (Ryan, 2011). People aren’t just easy to find but they're also easy to get to know just by the data they have of themselves on the internet (Hengstler, 2011). Most of the data received are without the user’s permission or consent. In addition, digital footprint can help others predict one's behavior or preference. Certain people can give wrong information about someone and ruin that person's image online. For example, your friend can tag you on her post even if you aren’t in the picture and this can be rather misleading to other viewers (Arakerimath, 2015). Anyone can look through your history and make assumptions about you while taking it out of context. Another dangerous fact is that anyone can find you if you share your location or if someone else does. Even if you have nothing to hide, the smallest piece of information can put you at great risk (Czodli, 2016).
To prevent this from happening there are many steps to take but the overall goal is to create a professional image of yourself on the internet. Furthermore, only leave positive details about yourself online (Ryan, 2011). Remember that anyone can see your data including your parents, managers, teachers, and colleges (Smith, 2014). Moreover, be cautious with what you post because once you do it can’t be erased (Hengstler, 2011). Another reason to be careful about the number of details you reveal on the web is because of cyber criminals and identity theft. Cyber criminals are people that sell your personal information to outside organizations. Identity theft is when someone else steals your data from the web and makes it theirs (Smith, 2014). In 2013, Target’s online database was hacked and millions of credit card numbers were stolen resulting in a huge identity theft crisis (Czodli, 2016). As more and more users step into the world of technology, the threat to their privacy increases.
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