Learn how to keep track of your digital footprint

Take control of your online self


You’ve heard of footprints right? They’re often messy, easily identifiable and simple to track. Now take that thinking and put into the online world. Everything you do online, from a Facebook status, to an Instagram post to a comment on a Tumblr blog forms part of your digital footprint. And just like real ones, they can be messy, easily identifiable and very, very simple to track.

Because we’re so much more connected than we used to be, our digital footprint is easily exploited with potential employers, recruiters, law enforcement and even universities searching and tracking our behaviour.

There are also plenty of cases where people with not so positive intentions track our behaviour for other activities, such as stalking, trolling, bullying and worse.

That’s not to say it’s all gloom and doom and you should never say anything or do anything online ever again. It just means that when you are online, be a bit more careful about what you say and share. Here are some tips to help keep your digital footprint nice and tidy:

Keep private conversations private

Facebook makes it easy to have personal conversations with your friends and family simply by posting something on their wall. Think of it this way, would you share your most private thoughts with your school during assembly? Probably not. Posting them on a wall is pretty much the same thing and is there for everyone to see. The last thing you want is to embarrass yourself or your friend because everyone has seen your post.

Don’t get too social

By this we mean, don’t plaster your social plans for everybody to see. You’ve probably heard stories about “Facebook parties” getting out of control or people having run-ins with violent or abusive ex-partners after seeing their social plans online. If you are hosting a party, invite people privately to avoid any unwanted partygoers.

No contact here

While this may seem to go against the very principle of social networking, it’s not what you might think. Too often people share their contact information, such as email addresses, phone numbers and physical addresses on public websites. We’re not just talking Facebook or Twitter either. There are examples where people share their details on common sites like Youtube and Instagram, especially when they are trying to get a response from them. Leaving your contact information on a public website can be dangerous, leaving you open to attacks from bullies or much worse.

No pictures please

While posting selfies and Instagramming our food or fashion choices using old-school filters is fun (and it is), just be mindful of the type of image you’re putting up online. Once it’s on the web, it’s there to stay and anyone can see it. There are hundreds of cases of people being fired from their jobs, suspended or expelled from school or even arrested for images they have posted online. You need to remember that what you post is representative of who you are, whether you want it to be or not.

You shall not pass

This one is probably the biggest no-brainer of the lot, but DON’T share the password to any of your social networking sites with anyone. You open yourself up to people being able to take whatever information they want from you as well as post humiliating, offensive or even illegal things from your account.

Being smart in the online world can be tricky, especially with so much going on in our lives. Cybersmart is a great source of help and information.