What Is A Digital Footprint?
Written by Dan Holman
In this article, we’ll explain what exactly a digital footprint is, how it works and why you should care.
Your digital footprint is the representation of you – online.
It’s the collection of data points about who you are, your preferences and opinions, your online activities and your influences and associations.
When you visit a website, it may store information about you, such as your IP address or email address, or even the pages or products that you look at while visiting the website – in files called cookies.
A cookie is a way for websites to identify and track you. This file is stored on your computer as you are browsing the Internet.
Some aspects of your digital footprint, like cookies, are generated from your online activity. Other parts, like your social media profiles and posts, are created when you publish content online.
Why should I care about my digital footprint?
Most people don’t realise how much of their digital footprint is visible to other people.
Data about your web browsing history and products that you look at online are generally only visible to the websites and social media platforms that you visit.
Content that you post to the web and social media, however, are generally publicly visible.
Anyone can view publicly available information about you through a search engine, or by searching on social media platforms.
Impacts of a bad digital footprint
There are specific ways a negative digital footprint can affect you, such as impacting your future relationships and even your ability to find a new job.
You may not have even realised that this information is online, or that it’s publicly available to anyone who might be looking.
Think of posts or videos of you engaging in suspicious – or even illegal – behaviour.
While these might seem relatively innocent and fun at the time, what happens when you forget about them and move on?
Simple: when future employers do a background check on you, their decision will be impacted by that kind of content.
Managing your digital footprint
The good news? You’re fully in control of your digital footprint. You get to decide what you put online and who can see it.
By being aware of how you appear online, you can shape the way others perceive your personal brand.
While it’s tempting to just delete all of your social media accounts and not use those services, this may actually hurt your ability to get a job.
Because up to 90% of recruiters and employers now check candidates’ social media accounts as part of their hiring process.
The lack of any digital footprint can come across as odd or suspicious, especially if having an online presence is a requirement for the role.
Carefully managing your digital footprint is a great way to avoid the pitfalls of a bad one, while also enjoying the benefits of a strong online reputation.
Learn more about CheckSocial’s personal checks here.
CheckSocial is an online intelligence platform that automates digital footprint checks and online investigations. You can view our approach, or you can start a conversation about how we can help meet your online intelligence needs.