Digital Footprint Cleanup

Your “digital footprint” includes all traces of your online activity, from commenting on news pieces or social media to making online purchases. When you know the boundaries of your digital footprint, and take steps to control it, you can protect your identity and your reputation.

Digital footprints don’t merely attract the interest of those out to steal your identity. They can also be traced by potential employers, schools, or creditors. Managing your identity clearly matters.

One way to think about your digital footprints is to categorize them as either “active” or “passive.”

“Passive” footprints are those you leave behind without intending to do so or, in some cases, even knowing you are doing so. For instance, websites that collect information about how many times you have visited in the recent past are adding to your digital footprint in a “passive” fashion. You don’t choose to hand them this data; they collect it when a device at your IP address connects with their websites. Because this is a hidden process, you may not realize it is happening at all.

“Active” footprints, by contrast, are those you leave when you make deliberate choices on the Internet. Posts you make to your own social media channels are a well-known form of active footprint. When you are logged into a project management or similar site, changes you make that are connected to your login name are also part of your active footprint.

Both active and passive footprints can be tracked and observed in multiple ways and by multiple sources. When you take steps to control your digital footprint, you take steps not only to protect your own identity and reputation, but that of your family and friends as well.