The first stage to controlling your digital footprint is to find what it is and assess any changes you wish to make.
Your digital footprint is the information available online about you, your work, friends, business etc.
The best place to start is the search engines – search on your name, nickname, place of work, sports clubs you have ever joined, where you live, postcode etc. Also use friend’s names and any other keywords that could lead back to you.
Then move onto social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. – try them all even if you haven’t signed up for them as maybe your friends have and have posted photos etc. including you. If you do have such social media accounts then logout before searching so you get an outsiders view of your information.
Now you can see your basic digital footprint, you can decide where you want to make changes or delete information (if possible).
If you see problems in items you’ve posted online, then hopefully you can delete or change them but if they’ve been posted by someone else you will need to approach them to have the items removed.
You should remember that it is common practice among employers to search online when assessing job applicants. So if there is anything unprofessional, this has the potential to damage your career prospects and you need to fix it if possible.
You may choose to do any of the following:
· Remove any photos, content, and links that may be inappropriate or reveal too much information.
· Use the privacy features of your browser and of the various websites you frequent to reduce the visibility of your information.
· Block comments on your posted information or moderate comments if you need some to be publically available.
· Close down any old social media accounts you do not need to use.
You may find that most of the information about you on the Internet is on social media, but having checked your digital footprint – you now know what and where that information is.
You may wish to change the software and services you use and replace them with more secure versions. Consider email, browser, chat, search, social media etc.
Social media accounts will have privacy settings. It is your choice as to who you allow to see your postings – specific people or friends or the public. Review the privacy settings for each of your social media accounts.
Facebook Privacy Settings
Go to account settings and select 'privacy' from the menu on the left. You can then decide who can see what information is posted -- and whether you can be looked up based on your email address, phone number or search engines.
Twitter Privacy Settings
Click the profile avatar on the top right of the screen, and select 'Settings.' You can choose to make your profile private or public and also change a range of basic account options.
When you visit a website, third-party trackers (cookies, web beacons, pixel tags, etc) may be stored on your computer. Organisations use these to track which sites you visit, what you buy etc.
Websites can have dozens of different trackers installed – to track visitors or sometimes to tailor adverts to your behaviour etc.
You may wish to ‘block’ trackers and you do this through settings in your browser or by installing dedicated tracker blocking add-ons and services.
It is wise to develop good security habits online, such as:-
1. Maintain a professional attitude in everything you post or comment online. You can still have fun but just be aware that anybody may read your posts.
Posts should be accurate and appropriate for your partner, children or boss to read.
It can be very difficult to delete posts so think first and don’t be drawn into gossip, arguments or anything similar. Tempers and behaviour can easily get out of hand on the Internet and leave damaging content that you wouldn’t in a calm frame of mind want others to see.
2. Monitor what other people are saying about you online
On some social media sites, you can adjust your account settings to have notifications sent to you when other people mention you, tag you, like, comment or share content. You can also enable approval rights when you are tagged in other people’s posts or photos, so they don’t appear on your timeline unless you’ve reviewed and approved them.
3. Incorrect spelling and/or poor grammar is very unprofessional and should be corrected.
4. Keep your information up-to-date, especially if you are job hunting or networking
5. Connect with other people but check them out first as many request for friends etc. are from automated services seeking access to your profile and posts or to set you up for a scam.
6. Close any accounts you no longer actively use.
Your social media accounts and content on the Internet is about you and for your benefit – treat all posts, comments and messages etc. as long term entries and ensure they reflect well on you.
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