A lot of people like to see what’s being said or posted about them on social media, blogs and anywhere else on the Internet. This can be just vanity but it is also useful to know what information about you is present on the Internet for people to see.
If anyone can find out about you online – then that includes criminals who may plan to cheat you, steal your digital identity or otherwise cause you harm.
What you post today could back to bite you in the future e.g. a party picture might be seen by a prospective employer.
For many people, there is a surprising amount of information online that really should be kept confidential – away from the eyes of scammers e.g. email address, job title, date of birth, telephone number, date of holidays, password clues etc.]
We’ll concentrate on Google as it’s by far the most popular search engine, but you can use any search engines you wish to find your digital footprint.
- Search for your name e.g. try John Smith but also use quotation marks to ensure the search is for your complete name and use initials or middle names - try as “John Smith”, “John R. Smith”, “John Reginald Smith” etc. Try any combination that might have been used to identify you.
- Search for yourself using phone number, home address, post code or any other identifiers
- Search for the combination of your company name and your own name or the combination of any organisation you are involved with plus your own name.
- Search on family and friends and see if your name pops up anywhere.
These results are your basic digital footprint and it can be viewed by anyone. If you find incorrect information then you may want to contact the relevant person or organisation to have it corrected.
For any of the social media platforms that you have ever used, try searching for your name, nickname etc. friends and family and so on. You may be careful with what information you make publicly available on social media, but you may find your friends and colleagues aren’t so careful about you.
Social media sites contain a wealth of information on their users. For Facebook and some other sites you can download a copy of all information they have about you and you might find it surprising.
Directories and Specialist Sites
There are many ‘people finder’ services, that can find out everything online about someone – such as yourself, but they do charge for the service and will not be further considered in this article.
There are numerous specialist sites where you could find information about yourself. Which ones to check depends on your activities, situation, location etc. E.g. maybe you’re a member of a golf club or any other club – try their website, or maybe you’re a member of a professional body, or a donor to charity etc.
Common directories such as Yell may only have information already found by Google but are worth checking. If you have a business. Also, local government and central government websites – if you’ve made a planning application for instance then there will be records about you.
So, your Digital Footprint is all of the information on the Internet about you, including social media posts, websites, blogs, organisations you work for or belong to, family photographs and more.
Keep an eye on your Digital Footprint, correct anything that is incorrect and be aware of how much criminals can see about you.