Delete Your Digital Footprint
Doing anything on the web leaves a digital footprint. Your computer exchanges data with servers whenever you visit a website or share anything on social networking sites – including when someone shares anything tagging you in. This footprint is your digital data including basics like your IP and email addresses but also other types of personal information such as your gender, date of birth or level of education. All gets collected and used by marketers to target you as a consumer or by hackers and fraudsters.
To ensure your footprint is an opportunity and not a liability that threatens your identity, you need to know what your digital footprint means to you.
So, here’s how to begin reputation management to keep track of yourself online.
Check Your Digital Footprint
Type and search your name into a major search engine and see what comes up. Search using frequent misspellings too. Be sure to check for images, sounds and documents. Websites may be indexed by search engines like Google so the content you delete will appear in searches for a while until eventually, it falls off the ranking. It may never disappear completely but finding it gets more difficult.
Social Media Can Be Dangerous
Social networking sites are the ‘root’ of your digital footprint. It’s a platform that needs information to work and where users are encouraged to add information about themselves by joining groups and subscribing to pages. Even if your internet activity is posting jokes and family pictures, protecting your data and staying secure online is an important part of reputation management.
You may have commented on a website or post ages ago or supported someone who has developed a negative image since then. You might even have stumbled into debates or arguments or posted pictures at a time when everyone was more naive about the power of the internet. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to find and delete everything, especially if you have had an online presence for a while but deleting whatever you find makes harder for someone else to collect your details.
Be Sensible About Content That Makes You Look Bad
You’re going to have to take various measures based on whether or not you’re the one who first published the material. It’s easier if you are after spending some time reading what you wrote, even posts not in your current username, question its appropriateness in the context of today’s attitudes. You won’t have to delete everything.
If someone else has uploaded the material then asking others to delete negative content is much more complicated even if it directly concerns you. Numerous web pages have policies on content removal, but it never hurts to submit a polite request.
Be Careful About What You Upload
Taking steps to not get your digital footprint dirty in the first place is better than looking for ways to clean it. Think long and hard before you get into an internet debate, even with family members and friends and as you are replying to comments, ask if you want your comment attached to your digital profile forever. Policing the internet starts with its users. Thinking twice is the best way of keeping your digital footprint clean and good reputation management.
It’s a good idea to extend this policy to your family. These days, internet safety is big on the curriculum but children using the internet with increasing independence need to know how to apply what they’ve learned in school to real life. Talk about how maintaining a good name online from the start is much better than trying to clean it up while applying for college or your first job.
Do Not Allow Tagging
It doesn’t matter how careful you are about what you’re saying online but you can’t dictate what other people are writing. People can post without your consent or knowledge. It takes one embarrassing photo and you could be trending as a meme.
Guard Your Image
If the person is a friend, no problem. Deleting comments and photos shouldn’t be an issue but sometimes even this is complex. Cyberbullies, ex intimate partners and even cybercriminals seek out embarrassing pictures of people to threaten to post them online. They do it by friending and collecting contact lists. It’s a horror story but it happens when you don’t use privacy settings or question who you accept as a friend. The only real way to prevent it is to not put your image out there.
On Facebook: The Settings Timeline Review button helps you access all data in which you are tagged, even those from users who are not friends of yours. Simply pick Enabled under Review Posts Tagged or follow the directions in the Facebook Help Center to accept or delete tags.
On Twitter: Go to “Configuration and Privacy. From there, select the option, Privacy and Safety. Next, hit the Photo Tagging” and change to ” identified by individuals’.
On Instagram: Go to your profile and press the tag button. Then press the picture you want to erase from the title. This will highlight your username. To get a notification when someone tags you, go to Settings and then Privacy. From there, choose Tags and click ‘Attach automatically’ to ‘Delete Me from Mail’ to ‘On’.
If you are tagged in a comment, you can either ask the person who tagged you to delete it (tap their username and click ‘Message’), or you can block this user from tagging you in the future by tapping their profile on the three dots menu and selecting ‘Block’.
Set Your Privacy Settings Strictly
Many applications automatically pass your details to third parties. To limit exposure check the security settings for each application you use all your internet devices, including the TV.
Begin your clean with your social media privacy settings to restrict who can access your page and who sees your posts. In general, your digital footprint is smaller and less of a target when there are just a few people getting your posts.
- Instagram: Go to ‘Settings and then choose Privacy and Account Privacy’ to ensure your account becomes “private.’
- Twitter: Go to ‘Settings and Privacy’ Once there, click on the ‘Privacy and Security’ tab.
- Pinterest: Pinterest allows you to make boards private, even though you can’t make your account private without deactivating it.
- Snapchat: To ensure who can see you on Snapchat, you will play with settings again. You can find some highly effective guidelines to keep your Snapchat posts private on the support page.
- Facebook: Go to the ‘Security’ tab and change all settings to prevent people from accessing your profile, calling you or seeing what you are sharing. Make sure ‘Free’ is set to nothing.
Set A Good Profile Online
Once you have made your decision to delete posts, the next stage is to present yourself as you want to be seen by generating new more appropriate content. The new latest content will enter the search results and demoting previous posts in the rankings down to pages where most users never click.
We know it can be tough to keep up with reputation management, but it’s better to be cautious than sorry. The worldwide web isn’t all cute babies and kittens but the guys at the top are not getting to grips with cleaning things up. For now, you have to look for yourself and your security and that means cleaning up and deleting to cover your tracks.