In this digital age, it has become easier for employers and other interested parties to get information about you at the touch of a button. Information is power and whoever wields important information has the power to either do a lot of damage or discredit you and therefore the need of having squeaky clean digital foot prints. But what are digital footprints, you may ask.

Digital footprint or digital shadow refers to one’s unique set of traceable digital activities, actions, contributions and communications that are manifested on the internet and/or on digital devices. In short, your digital footprints are your online trail.

There are two main classifications for digital footprints: passive and active. A passive digital footprint is created when data is collected without the owner knowing like in the case of a stalker, whereas active digital footprints are created when personal data is released deliberately by a user for the purpose of sharing information about oneself by means of websites or social media.

Now that you know what a digital footprint is let’s look at how you can protect it to ensure that information collected about you is not used against you.

• Think before you post: Think yourself as a newspaper editor when posting stuff on the internet. Edit, re-edit and then thoroughly confirm before you post. Once something is posted, it can be difficult to remove. Remember, the internet doesn’t forget. There will always be a copy of your post somewhere. If you wouldn’t want a potential employer seeing something, don’t post it!
• Keep login info under lock and key: Never share any of your usernames or passwords with anyone. If you think that someone could have had access to them, change them. It is also useful to have a secondary email address where one would be for official business and another for your social media accounts.
• Protect your personal data: Don’t disclose your personal address, phone number, passwords or bank card numbers on social media or even anywhere in the internet. Consider using a nickname instead of your real name. This will go a long way in protecting you in future.
• Go slow with the pics: Any photo you post publicly is fair game for anyone to dig up. Remember to make sure that your pictures are within the realm of decent. If you do choose to share questionable pictures, be sure to have private settings. Such pictures should never be allowed to reach your employer.
• Google yourself: If strangers are going to google you, you should too! Search for your name every once in a while so you’re conversant with what the internet says about you.
• Scale back on social media: It doesn’t meant that you should not be in any social media. It simply means that you should not be on more social networking sites than you can handle. Keep the profiles you use frequently and delete any accounts you don’t update often. There is actually no need of having useless accounts only to have someone use them as you.

Protecting your digital footprint may seem unimportant now but will prove useful in future. Ensure you protect and manage your digital footprints. As I said earlier, the internet doesn’t forget.

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