What Exactly Is Your Social Media Digital Footprint?
Your social media presence is a subset of your digital footprint. While your digital footprint encompasses all of your online data such as leaving reviews or signing up for newsletters, your social media digital footprint comprises everything you’ve ever posted on your social media accounts. This extends to your interactions on other users’ accounts and who you’ve associated yourself with through those interactions – such as comments you’ve left or pages you’ve liked.
How It Affects You
Your social media can increase your vulnerability to online scams. Just from LinkedIn, an individual could glean your phone number, email address, education history, job history, and more – depending on available information.
Your digital footprint also has the potential to impede different aspects of your life – many of which are considered milestones. This can include employment opportunities, adoption approvals, academic admission eligibility, and other potential ramifications.
Individuals may use your social profiles to learn about you and get a sense of who you are. From this, viewers can make snap judgments about your entire character based off of a single piece of posted content. Here are some instances of how your social media digital footprint can come back to haunt you:
- Videos Posted by Others
- A longtime Apple executive was fired after a video of him was uploaded to TikTok showcasing him making a comment that was offensive to others. This demonstrates the importance of being cautious of what you say and do, both online and offline.
- Privacy Settings and Video Deletion Aren’t Foolproof
- Another individual lost his job when he criticized bodega culture in New York in a TikTok video. Despite setting his account to private after the initial backlash, the video had been screen recorded, shared on Twitter, and his employer tagged.
- Resurfacing Old Posts
- A social media influencer faced backlash after Tweets that were a decade old, of her casually using slurs, were dug up and posted on Reddit.
Mitigating Your Digital Footprint Risks
There are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your reputation on social media.
- Privacy Settings
- You may adjust who can view your social media content in the privacy settings on each platform. You can limit it to only those you know and friends and family. However, keep in mind that this is not an end-all, be-all. Nothing is entirely private on the internet. As seen in one of the incidents mentioned above, what you post can still be shared, regardless of privacy settings, through screenshots and screen recordings.
- Think Before Posting
- A good rule of thumb is to think before you post. Don’t post something in the heat of the moment if you are upset. If you have to guess if something may be offensive, discriminatory, or compromising to you, it’s a safe bet not to post it at all.
- Regularly Review and Clean Up
- It’s a good idea to regularly review what you’ve posted in the past to determine if your old thoughts and posts still represent your character and who you are as a person.
- Use Social Media Positively
- Social media is a great way to express and represent yourself. A good rule of thumb is to simply use it in a positive manner to share what you achieved, your hobbies, and other elements that bring you and others joy.
Overall, this article is not to discourage you from having social media. Instead, it is to encourage you to be cognizant of your social media digital footprint and how it can impact different aspects of your life. Individuals’ lives are becoming increasingly intertwined with the online world every day and you can take steps to manage your online presence.
Your digital footprint can be a powerful tool capable of creating opportunities and fostering heartfelt connections, don’t let it haunt you.