Digital Footprint Assignment

1. How might your digital footprint affect your future opportunities? Give at least two examples.

A digital footprint is a record of an individual’s interactions online, including everything they share online, their location data, search history, cookie data, and posts they like or comment upon on social media. Companies are constantly tracking and collecting data and selling it to other companies. It is impossible to ensure that no data is collected while using the internet. Therefore, it is imperative to maintain a positive digital footprint. An individual’s digital footprint can impact their reputation, affecting their employment opportunities and chances of getting admission into a university. For example, an inappropriate comment or post on a person’s Instagram could be seen by an employer, possibly making them reconsider hiring that person. However, a positive digital footprint could increase the chances of getting hired or gaining entry into a university. Posts that display an individual’s positive traits or achievements can positively impact employers screening prospective employees’ social media.           

2. Describe at least three strategies that you can use to keep your digital footprint appropriate and safe.

Some strategies that can be used to maintain an appropriate and safe digital footprint are thinking before posting, remembering that information online is permanent, and avoiding oversharing. Always think before posting anything on the internet. Use the T.H.I.N.K acronym to assess a post. Is the post True? Is it Harmful? Is it Illegal? Is it necessary? Is it Kind? A post that does not meet these criteria should not be posted because it will harm the sender’s digital footprint. Also, remember that content that is online is permanent. Images and posts can be saved or screenshotted and shared with others, even if taken down. Finally, do not overshare. Do not share private information like passwords, addresses, or bank card numbers online, even in private messages, because there is always the possibility of an account being hacked. The privacy setting on a social media account should be set so only friends and family of an individual can view the posts, reducing the risk of leaked private information.   

3. If you could go back in time, is there anything that you would do differently online? Think of what advice you would pass on to your younger self or other students.

Something I would do differently online is reading the privacy policy and terms of service before signing up for an account, so I know what the company that owns the website is doing with my data. I would also check my cookie settings to ensure I only agree to the minimum amount of cookies the website can collect. Taking these steps would minimize the data companies can collect from me and sell to other companies.