Your Digital Footprint
Your digital footprint, also known as online footprint contains data traces of your Internet activity. This includes information such as social network activity, uploaded images, uploaded videos, comments and other forms of Internet transmissions stored online available to others.
Your digital footprint is different from your Internet history stored on your computer containing all your Internet browsing history.
An example of digital footprint are images uploaded to a blog website. These images reside on the blog webserver freely available to all Internet users. Search engines index these images so they are available in image searches.
Another example is Facebook data, where or not it is visible to anyone.
Content on the Internet can be copied, stored and re-shared. Hence, it can be very difficult to get it removed once it has been shared.
Images from the 2014 iCloud hack are still visable in Google image searches.
With the rise of social networks, the digital footprint of individuals has significantly increased and can something have disastrous implications.
Social Network Footprint
Let focus on your digital footprint with the most popular social networks. These are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.
How are social networks used?
Used for publicity of self, an item, or brand. Promotional activities instigated by shared contents, posting commons and endorsements. All done in a very specific manner to reach a target audience.
Used for self-expression, with content sharing and comments posted to a specific set of friends. Or, the expression of views and opinions with everyone via public sharing. Often there can be confusion resulting in content from friends being shared with everyone.
With the exception of Facebook, the social networks mentioned above are public sharing platforms. This means that information shared is visible to anyone, whether or not they use the social network, unless it is specifically restricted. However, if Facebook privacy setting aren’t secured approximately, information shared is visible to anyone whether or not they use Facebook.
Should you care who has access your social network content?
Ask yourself the following questions.
- Do you post provocative posts in your own name?
- Do you care if others post pictures of you?
- Do you mind if friends mention you or tag you in content?
- Do you know all your social networks friends?
If the answer to any of the questions is yes, then you should care who has access to your social network content. Let see why you should care.
Most social networks have a Terms of Service where the USER grants the PLATFORM license to use their content. This gives the PLATFORM royalty-free license to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods within their network.
You can review the Terms of Service for the following social networks using the links in the table below.
Putting copyright laws aside, content (specifically images) placed on the Internet can be easily copied and reused unauthorised. This could results in lost income or embarrassment (images of bad behaviour or inappropriate selfies).
UK copyright laws provide adequate protection against unauthorised Internet content usage. But why put yourself through difficulty instead of protecting your content.
This involves identifying and analysing social network content to get a snapshot of an individual’s character. The aims is to uncover conduct and attitudes with an emphasis on bad behaviour, inappropriate selfies and prejudice views. For an employer, they may wish to establish employee culture fit. This may seem unethical, but it’s a growing trend.
Here are a few scenarios that could have an undesirable outcome.
- Jackie frequently gets drunk and behaves badly in public. Her friends like to capture Jackie’s drunken antics on their smart phones and post them on Instagram with Jackie tagged.
- When George attended university three year ago, he posted a penis selfie on Twitter. He has totally forgotten about this, but it still resides on his Twitter timeline.
- Rachel calls in sick at work so she can go to the beach on a hot summer day. She posts pictures of her day out on Facebook forgetting that her boss is a Facebook friend and has access to view all her content.
Using social network screening to find out as much information about someone to stake them.
Politically incorrect posts may be taken wrongly. This could result and a back lash or numerous return posts. It could also result in a lost opportunity due to the content of your social network timeline discovered by social network screening.