A digital footprint is the record of a person's activity on the Internet.
It includes things like social media posts, email messages, online purchases, and web search history. In general, anything a person does online that leaves a trace can be considered part of their digital footprint. This includes information that is actively shared by the person, as well as data that is passively collected about them through tracking technologies and analytics tools.
Your digital footprint also includes information that is stored about you by third parties, such as website cookies, and your IP address.
It's important to be aware of your digital footprint, and to understand that the information you share online can be accessed, collected, and used by others in ways you may not expect or intend. Some people may choose to be more mindful of their digital footprint, by limiting the amount of personal information they share online or by using privacy tools to control the data that is collected about them.
Every status message, every post, every like, every comment, every hashtag etc on social media is a digital footprint of a person and collectively forms his or her online reputation!
Every small bit of your online activity can be put together like a jigsaw puzzle to form a picture of who you are, what you're interested in, what kind of personality you have, what are your values & biases. For example, if a person frequently posts about political issues, it could indicate that they have strong opinions on politics. Similarly, if a person frequently posts about street food, it could indicate that they have a strong interest in street food. Simple!
Likes and hashtags can also provide insight into a person's interests and values. For example, if a person frequently likes posts about environmentalism, it could indicate that they are concerned about environmental issues. Similarly, if a person frequently uses hashtags about mental health, it could indicate that they are interested in mental health issues.
Collectively, these pieces of information can be used to understand a person's online reputation. Many want to track you for multiple reasons...
- Companies want to track you to show you relevant ads.
- Political organizations want to track you to influence your political views.
- And, thousands of “data brokers” want to track your digital footprints to sell your data to other companies.
Digital citizenship & Internet Maturity skills are critical for a person to manage his or her digital footprints.
DCIM skills include understanding how to use social media responsibly, knowing how to protect personal information online, and being aware of the impact that one's actions can have on their online reputation. By learning how to be a responsible digital citizen, a person can make informed decisions about the information they share online, protect their privacy, and build a positive online reputation.