In this article, I want to discuss an important yet grossly overlooked subject. Most of us spend time online daily. This can be on websites or mainly on social media platforms. We get to say things or post stuff on most of these digital platforms. This also spans to email you send, platforms you follow, tag, or mention, amongst other things. All things constitute what we call your digital footprint. Your digital footprint speaks a lot about who you are and what you stand for. I have noticed most people behave anyhow online without thinking of the implications of their conduct.
Why Your Digital Footprint Is A Big Deal
When you are looking for employment, business investors, or even business partners, background checks are inevitable. We are living in a digital age and background checks are now more far-reaching than ever before. Just a simple name search online can unearth a lot about the kind of person someone is. It is now commonplace for recruiters and many others to trace your digital footprint before making a decision. This is because one’s digital footprint gives a considerable picture of their personality, conduct, belief system, values, and principles, amongst other things.
Let me cite some examples so that you get what I am driving at here. In 2013, Justine Sacco who was working at IAC as a PR Executive was fired just because of a single tweet. She was flying to South Africa and just before her flight she tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I do not get AIDS. Just kidding. I am white!” Before she landed in South Africa an email had already been sent to her firing her. At times you can do stuff online for fun but it can backfire. This happened at a certain hospital in the UK where some staff members started posting pictures of them lying down at different spots around the hospital. They called it the Lying Down On The Job Challenge. Guess what? They were all fired. I also remember one paramedic who would post selfie images of her and dying patients. She eventually got fired because of that.
The number of examples is countless but I am sure you get the point. Do not think that maybe you are little known or unknown on social media. The impact can be shocking as was the case for Justine Sacco. When she made that racially insensitive tweet, she had just 170 followers. However, the tweet went viral and cost her a job plus made her the most hated person globally at the time. It is your responsibility to ensure you behave ethically online.
How Can You Ensure A Clean Digital Footprint
A rule of thumb is to private and low-key like I said in a recent article. Do not publish everything regarding your personal life online all the time. This also means you must have a comprehensive chunk of your personal information out there online. Before following anyone or any platform, be sure about what they stand for.
You do not always have to say something about everything; at times silence is a virtue. Make sure you only keep online accounts you actively use. Be diligent about identity theft or getting your accounts hacked. Make it a habit to periodically throw your name in a Google search to see what pops up.
This will give you a picture of what people will most likely stumble across about you online. When posting or interacting with anyone online, be respectful and conscientious. Do not insult or ridicule other people, and do anything that can be deemed controversial. Especially on controversial matters, it is best to distance yourself and be quiet. Remember you never know who might see your actions online.
This is something you must start working on right now. Start by dealing with what is already there; sweep through all the stuff you have ever put out online. If there is anything that can tarnish your reputation you need to take it down. This must all be followed by being more conscious moving forward. Be actively aware at all times that whatever you do online can have serious implications for you later. Do not just absent-mindedly and carelessly post stuff online. I have noticed there are many unethical social media platforms where people post anyhow. Your next big break career-wise or in your business ventures can be compromised just because of some silly post or comment you put out on social media.