With an ever-increasing presence online comes a longer and much more extensive digital footprint. Most people have heard of a digital footprint, but how many actually know what's involved?
A digital footprint is the trail of all the data you produce whenever you're using the Internet. Here are a couple of terms to keep in mind.
Active digital footprint – is all that information that you deliberately post online. Things like Facebook posts, Twitter posts, an e-mail sent, a photo uploaded.
Passive digital footprint – is all of that information you don't even realise you're leaving on the Internet. Things like your IP address being logged from visiting a website, your search browser history are all part of your passive digital footprint.
And while a digital footprint can sound scary, it's not something to be worried about. But it is important to take into consideration what you're doing online. Everything that you do online can stay online forever. You may post something on Facebook when you're upset, and later, when you're calm, delete it and call it a day – but you can never know who saw it, shared it or even screenshot it. It's so important to remember what you're doing online, and the path your digital footprint is leaving. What effects could this have later on? On yourself or others?
Some things to keep in mind
Limit the information you share online, especially private information.
Keep your passwords safe and to yourself, and make sure you don't use the same password for every website.
Be familiar with privacy settings. Regularly check them to ensure they are still what you're after.
Don't post anything which may be hurtful or harmful to yourself, your family or friends and don't bully others online.
Be aware that hashtags can be searched online.
Don't post online when you're angry or upset. Wait until your calm and then reassess.
Always remember that your digital footprint, passive or active, can never be entirely removed from the Internet.
Prevent Bullying. (2018). What is a digital footprint? https://www.preventcyberbullyinghe.com/post/what-is-a-digital-footprint
Christensson, P. (2014). Digital Footprint Definition. https://techterms.com/definition/digital_footprint