Men may come, and men may go, but the internet is FOREVER. This statement would give you an idea of what digital footprints are, and what can one expect from it.
With every passing minute as we are getting more and more digitized, the more we are getting chained (and freed) by the internet. The beauty is how without even realizing, all of us are bound to it in one way or another. The reason why I am here today – to enlighten you about the modern-day footprints, digital footprints:
What are Digital Footprints?
Consciously or unconsciously, all of us are creating our own digital footprints because any trail of data you create while surfing the World Wide Web is said to be a digital footprint. From emails, websites, and searches, to your social media behavior – everything counts.
Now, digital footprints can be categorized into two parts, one passive, the other active. The passive digital footprint is what you create unintentionally, for instance, while searching for some information. An active footprint is what you create when you post on social media, send an email or publish a blog.
Is It Stored?
Yes, it is. And, if your next question is for how long? Well, forever! And this time forever just doesn’t mean a very long time, but in real terms ‘forever’.
I know most of you are wondering, what is so special in your data that it requires storing forever? There are a couple of reasons that can give you your desired answer – First, let me be upfront, at the moment it is easier to store your data rather than delete it. Second, when you use a website and provide them your details like contact number and name, they are free to use it.
Passive footprints are stored in the form of cookies, used to personalize web pages for you. For example, if you order formal shoes online, next time you open websites like Facebook, you will observe that you see more ads of such shoes in comparison to other products.
Who Can Discover Your Digital Footprint?
This answer might shock you, but, yes, ANYONE can follow your digital footprint. It is just like stalking Facebook on Instagram for the cute girl/guy you spotted in your classes last week.
By everyone, I don’t just mean your friends or family, but your employer, service providers, government, school authorities and (well) even hackers too! Most of us are compelled to believe the data is hidden given the so-called ‘security measures.’ Yes, it is. But only for plain sight. It is easily accessible for people who know where to look.
Now you know how data forms the core of your digital footprint, which is easily available. It can be extracted from your search history or from your internet service provider. Studies suggest that about 33% of all colleges research your digital footprint and 38% of applicants are negatively affected by the same.
Why Does It Matter So Much?
To understand this, first let’s do a small activity together: Google your name online. What comes up? Parts of your social media profile like your Facebook profile, LinkedIn profile, etc.
But here the thing is that is what you have put online. It is a reflection of your digital footprint. What makes this so important is that you are unaware of the audience looking for your digital behavior. Whatever you do online is your virtual reality. Your digital footprint allows others to use and see what you do online, in any way they want.
When Should You Bother About This?
Here, let me explain to you with an example: Suppose you went for a holiday. You clicked a lot of pictures. Now what? When you return, you decide to do what everyone does (mostly!) Show it to the world.
It’s not abnormal to do that, but make sure you verify check your privacy settings. Analyze if it’s okay if your employer, higher authorities, government, and other people have a look at it? If no, you should reconsider what you will be posting. That is the beauty of the internet, you take the lead to decide what will go out on your name. Nothing can be posted without your consent (Unless, of course, hackers!)
Wrapping up, let me leave you with one last statement: It is extremely important to manage your digital footprints. Trust me, it is not as difficult as it seems. A little care and little less hasty might do the job. Now that you know how digital footprints are governing the 21st century, there should be no probability of any mistake.
Tools like Stillio help you create your own archive that you can use in the future. As they say, the web is ephemeral meaning what you see on the web might not be there tomorrow. And when it comes to your precious data, you surely don’t want to take any risks, do you?
More on this topic: Cyber Crime – Criminals Use Social Media Too