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What is a Digital Footprint?

Mar 26, 2021 1:45:27 PM

Wondering what happens to our online activities? You might be wondering, what is a digital footprint?


A digital footprint is much like a footprint in the sand or mud; it follows behind us and shows where we have been. Unlike the sand, though, this digital footprint does not fade away. It is safe to assume we can forever trace anything we do online. 


There are two kinds of digital footprints: active and passive. We will relay an example of a digital footprint in more detail shortly.


Understanding how a digital footprint is created and how to find your digital footprint is essential in this tech-centric world. We’ll explain just how to do that in this article. 


Examples of a Digital Footprint


Now that you know what a digital footprint is, it’s important to look at how that digital footprint traces back to us through different examples. 


These are what make up some of your digital footprints:

  • Emails
  • Social media posts
  • Websites you visit
  • Online purchases


Though you may think these things are all private, there are still ways to trace them back to you. 


An active footprint is an “intentional” trail of information we leave behind, like posts on social media, sending emails, and looking things up on search engines. Passive footprints are using websites with your location services turned on or using sites that collect data to give you targeted advertisements later on social media or the like.


Wondering what is a digital footprint can lead to questions such as, “Why should I care?” or “What does this mean?” which is completely normal. We’ve got the answers for you. 


Finding ourselves on the internet can sometimes be exciting, but we feel violated when it’s our personal information. Taking care to ensure that your digital footprint is only consensual information can help that feeling of violation disappear. 


Caring about your digital footprint is essential because what shows up on Google is often seen by people such as employers, family and friends, and the government. 


If something shows up on your search on Google that is embarrassing or somehow shows illegal activity, it can damage your reputation or even lead to legal issues. For example, posting information about someone on your social media page without their consent can lead to more significant issues later on. 


Tip: Turn off Facebook Facial Recognition


Knowing how this digital footprint is created and how to find your digital footprint will allow you to feel and be safe on the internet with the information being collected and used. 

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How is a Digital Footprint Created


Now that you know what a digital footprint is, let’s look at how it’s created. Well, it is based on the information you supply to the internet, such as your activity on search engines or what you post onto the internet yourself. 


Once again, the passive and active digital footprints have a lot of information on our digital footprints, such as IP addresses and websites we have visited, and active footprints such as the posts we put onto social media and the purchases we make. 


Knowing how this digital footprint is created will allow you to be aware of the potential attacks that can be made against you if the wrong people acquire the wrong information. 


If you are putting your personal information into an unprotected website, cyber-attacks may happen to you. For example, if you are buying something from a website you think is legitimate. Still, it turns out that it was a scam; there’s the possibility that your personal information, such as credit card information and personal address, is stolen or compromised.


Internet safety is essential. With so many digital footprints created, changed, and updated every day, there are plenty of opportunities for our information to leak out into the wrong hands. 


Here are some things to never put onto the internet without ensuring a secure network:

  • Social security number
  • Password information for websites
  • Client information (if you run a business)


Ensuring that these things are secure is essential for today’s world. Knowing what information to share is important. 


Digital footprints are not all bad. Knowing what to share and whom to share it with is a skill that every person should learn today.


How to Find Your Digital Footprint


Finding your digital footprint can be as easy as doing a Google search with your first and last name. This will give you the basic information on what comes up if someone were to search your name, such as an employer. 


However, the basic Google search will not be enough if you are worried about what is coming up on your digital footprint. 


Here are some specific things to search if you are wondering about how to find your digital footprint:


  • Search “first name last name@” to see what emails are associated with your name, and what is publicly available for anyone to see with a quick search. 
  • Search “first name last name filetype:doc” to see what kind of documents include your name or identity. You can also switch out “doc” to “jpg” or “pdf” to see other variants of texts that may include your name.


There are also specific sites you can search within to see if you are mentioned within them. These include:


To stay safer, ensure you are looking for the newest online privacy updates where you have your email set up or even your web browser as a whole. Usually, these updates allow you to obtain the most recent and best security features for the system. 


To look into your social media accounts, because this is where the most information is given out these days, go to your settings and choose the “privacy settings.” Make sure these are up to date with what you feel is necessary, whether that be a private or public profile or blocking certain information from being on your account. 


Checking on your digital footprint can become a part of your monthly routine on the internet. Frequent checks will make you feel safer and allow you to have more control of your digital footprint. Reputation Repair (1)


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