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Online Privacy and Your Digital Footprint: Managing your digital footprint to your advantage

Check your digital footprint

How much information about you is already on the internet?


- Use Google and at least one other search engine to search variations on your name (as lastname firstname as well as the usual order, or using initials, etc.)

- Search yourself on FaceBook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. to find out what other people have posted about you publicly, and also to check whether you have any old, unused accounts on those applications (if you do, delete them if you can).

Tools for managing your digital footprint

The Internet Society has a series of video modules to help you uncover your current digital footprint and to manage it.

Your digital footprint is your social media resume

Image: How to Build a Social Media Resume Infographic

How is your digital footprint created?

TechTerms explains that the term digital footprint refers to:

"A digital footprint is a trail of data you create while using the Internet. It includes the websites you visit, emails you send, and information you submit to online services."

"An active digital footprint includes data that you intentionally submit online. Sending an email contributes to your active digital footprint, since you expect the data be seen and/or saved by another person. The more email you send, the more your digital footprint grows. Since most people save their email online, the messages you send can easily remain online for several years or more."

Social media contributes a lot of material to your digital footprint: every tweet you send on Twitter, every status update you publish on Facebook, every photo you share on Instagram, every post to SnapChat.  "Likes" and "thumbs up" also become a part of your digital footprint (Facebook saves that data, linked to your account).

"Everyone who uses the Internet has a digital footprint, so it is not something to be worried about. However, it is wise to consider what trail of data you are leaving behind. For example, remembering your digital footprint may prevent you from sending a scathing email, since the message might remain online forever. It may also lead you to be more discerning in what you publish on social media websites. While you can often delete content from social media sites, once digital data has been shared online, there is no guarantee you will ever be able to remove it from the Internet."