A Digital footprint is a series of data that users create while surfing the internet like while checking out e-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon for a particular product, e-mails you send, filing any sort of information you submit on websites for services, your social media accounts, online subscription, your browsing history and photos & videos you have uploaded online, and many more things which we left behind after surfing the internet.
There are two types of Digital footprints:-
Passive digital footprints are which we left behind unknowingly and collected without knowing the person what is happening. For example, a web server stores your IP address and your Internet Service Provider(ISP) which can track your estimated geographic location as well. It can be analysed offline. An IP address can be changed and then it does not include any personal information, But your browsing history includes your personal information which is saved by some search engines. On social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook posts you post, share like and comment is now also part of passive digital footprinting because it is search engines track your posts as well.
Active digital footprints include data we intentionally share online by using social media websites and other websites as well We quite frequently send e-mails that provide active digital footprinting. The more email you send the more digital footprints will expand. E-mail saved online and we don’t delete them quite often do it will remain for years in our storage.
Blog posting is also an example of active digital footprinting where social media information of the author is given from there you can track their social media handles.
Every post status you post on Facebook, Every tweet you post on tweeter, Every photo you share on Instagram contributes to expanding your digital footprint. The more time you spent on these websites more your digital footprint would be.
Since we all use these things so we all have a digital footprint and this, not the thing to be concerned about, But we should know what kind of data trail is been we are leaving behind. Understanding and observing the digital footprint will help us to manage them and you should deal with it.
Here are some tips to manage Digital Footprints-
1. Use digital tools
We can use Ad-blockers and different kinds of extensions so websites do not track us and kept our data secret. VPN (Virtual Proxy Network) also used to change IP address and it will also change our geographic location as well.
We can use Different browsers which gives us full privacy and security.
Tor browser gives us multiple layers of privacy protection Tor browsers encrypt users data in a manner that is impossible to track by someone.
2. Google yourself and use privacy settings
You can also search your name Google and see on which websites your photos and content is appearing. If it is present on those websites you don’t want and you see your name or photo on an inappropriate website you can always complain about that. It will help to clean your digital footprint and make it a positive one.
You should always have eyes on your privacy settings on your social media and Google account
You can turn off youtube history tracking and activity tracking from Google privacy settings as well
The same you can do with your Facebook and Instagram privacy settings.
3. Use DuckDuckgo search engine
Even if you set facebook to not share your information with search engines but it will use that information for its own Facebook marketing with the help of demographics.
Google also does the same thing if someone logged in with their Google account on chrome it will track each bit of information that which keyword you have searched, which site you visit most and youtube history as well for personalized ads.
You can use less profit-oriented search engines like DuckDuckgo which protects our privacy and browsing history. No ad targeting involved.
4. Monitor Linked accounts
We usually link our social media accounts with any websites because we dont want to remember the password of that website and it is easy to access. But you never realize that what important information you are giving to that website. So please check all the linked websites with your Facebook and Google accounts and unlink shady websites and applications.
5. Use a secondary e-mail address
If you are signing up on a new website but are wondering whether this website is trustable or not.
The secondary e-mail comes in handy you can use it for signing up on a new website.
6. Read terms and conditions
We should not simply accept the terms and conditions of every website we visit we should at least scan the content of terms and conditions what it is all about.
We all should read Cookies terms and conditions of websites while accepting them.
7. Use a password manager or create a strong Password
Everyone should use a trusted password manager so you cannot forget passwords of different websites you have an account on. Make strong passwords that are difficult for hackers to crack. Don’t ever create passwords like these- [email protected], 12345678, ABCD123 etc.
8. Think before you post
We should always think about what we are posting, Is it relevant to post? Whether your parents or colleagues like it or not when you post.
Employers are also tracking and analysing candidates digital footprints for employment purposes so make sure the content you had posted 5 or 10 years back may impact your career as well.
One common mistake most of the people quite often do is share their holidays’ details and which places you travelled to and for how many days. Giving personal geographic location information online can be very risky So, please think twice before posting anything otherwise you may have to face consequences for that.
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