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Emma Stowe

Ms. Hoffman

R&W For the College Bound

23 November 2016

The Importance of Leaving a Safe Digital Footprint

A digital footprint is a trail that follows someone as their internet use prevails. Essentially

it is ones life documented online. As people create more and more social media accounts, their

digital footprints follow their trails they are creating. Everyone leaves behind tweets, statuses,

and pictures on the internet that will forever remain a part of their history. Sure the internet can

be used in a proper way for advanced communication and entertainment; however, if people

dont understand how to manage their profiles the internet can quickly become a setback and

harm their futures and privacy. Society should not avoid the internet; they should be cautious and

informed of online dangers. If someone is looking to create a safe and nonthreatening digital

footprint its important that they are aware of their privacy settings, understand what they post is

permanent, and separate their personal life from their professional life.

In order for people to maintain a safe profile behind the screen its important for them to

be aware of the consequences of a lack of privacy and know how to protect themselves online. If

societys use of social networks continues to grow the way it is, their privacy will soon be

eliminated. Without taking proper caution and thought, theres no doubt that those who use the

internet are in danger of fraud, identity theft, and even being personally tracked. While there are

many positives to this new and improved form of communication, it can be heavily outweighed

by the negative impacts that come along with the invasion of privacy. Most of the time people

dont look at it to be a major issue, but thats mostly because they have not been the victim.
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Quoting Beth Givens, Bob Sullivan reported her opinion on online dangers. A lot of people

think about privacy but dont really care until something happens to them personally, ... Its like

freedom. [They] dont appreciate it until its gone(Sullivan 2). Unfortunately, what Beth

concluded is very true. Society listens to stories and reports throughout the news, but they never

bother to do anything about it. The most pitiful thing about this is the consequences are not

minor. When someone's privacy is invaded it happens either all at once or not at all. For example,

if online stalkers have access to credit cards they can gain personal information such as ones

address, bank statements, and potentially even their social security number. When predators

strike, there is a domino effect knocking down each wall of someones privacy. Luckily, there are

ways that one is able to potentially block out these predators and keep their privacy intact.

Online users are able to manage their privacy settings by keeping their accounts private. While

this wont keep their information completely isolated, every little bit helps. They also need to be

smart about the information they release over the internet. Who is on the other side of someones

screen is always a mystery. Sure most of the time they are who they say, but other times these

people can be bullies, pedaphiles, and even murderers. Lastly, because so much information is

available to online predators, people should always filter what they post on the internet. While

filtering might not seem like a big deal because users can delete posts, everything that is posted

has the potential to be permanent.

When someone posts updates on social media networks or websites, that information is

permanently attached to their name. As young adults and teenagers are constantly using the web,

they are not careful about what they post. Within ten years, the information that they post could

harm their futures. The problem is that no one realizes what they post is permanent. They think

that because their is a delete button, that post will forever be erased. Sadly, this is not the case.
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What you post is permanent, much like a tattoo. In a TED talk, Juan Enriquez posed the question,

What happens if Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, cellphones, GPS, Foursquare, Yelp,

Travel Advisor, all these things [one deals] with every day turn out to be electronic tattoos? And

what if they provide as much information about who and what [they] are as any tattoo ever

would? (Enriquez). Once something is posted online it becomes a part of who someone is.

Whether they have changed from the time that post was made or not it will forever be a part of

who they once were or still are today. Most of the time when someone posts something

inappropriate or rude it was a heat of the moment post. But, when future careers and jobs role

around it could be threatening to ones reputation. In the recent Miss Teen USA Pageant, the

winner, Karlie Hay, was criticized for previously using the n word in a casual, demeaning way.

She was criticized for this, and was threatened to be decrowned due to her actions from three

years ago (Park 1). Even though her actions may not have been representative of the person who

she is today, they still caused multiple people to post hatred towards her image The internet

provides endless facts about ones life that they may not even be aware that someone is looking

at. When somebody posts online they must understand that it is permanent and their future

colleagues or bosses could be looking at inappropriate or nonprofessional information. Because

of this, anyone who is looking to have an online profile must understand how to separate their

professional lives from their social lives.

Online its important for people to isolate their personal life from their work life.

Throughout ones life they will constantly communicate with friends, family, and colleagues;

however, communication should be on the proper social media website and in a proper context

depending on the situation. There is always a right and wrong way someone can say something,

and in this case where one says that something is just as crucial. As Soumitra Dutta goes on to
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explain, If [someone wants] to strengthen relationships with colleagues and industry peers,

[they should] get active on a company social network and LinkedIn. If [someone wants] to share

[their] ideas with the broader community, [they should] start a public blog and use Twitter

(Dutta). There is usually a right and wrong place for someones thoughts that they post online,

sometimes just a wrong place. Comments that someone posts online could be looked at as

unprofessional for ones boss to see or even inappropriate for a teens parents to see. In todays

generation, the information people post is spread within seconds to hundreds maybe even

thousands of people. Because of this everyone has to think about what and where they are

posting before the send button is clicked in order to create a safe and friendly form of

communication. The internet is constantly growing and becoming more advanced, but this

advancement will only be a positive if people use it in a proper manner for the correct purposes.

When using the internet people must be conscious of their privacy settings, know the

consequences of their posts being permanent, and isolate their personal life from their

professional life in order to create a sheltered digital footprint. As constant internet users, often

times people dont think they just do. They post photos, tweets, and snapchats all that may be

unprofessional and even unsettling. Todays society lives in a world where its okay to show of

anything;however, everyone must be constantly aware of the dangers and hurdles the internet

poses in order to use it in a safe, efficient manner. As the internet continues to grow, everyones

digital footprint will as well.

Works Cited

Dutta, Soumitra. "Managing Yourself: What's Your Social Media Strategy." Harvard Business

Review. Harvard Business Publishing, Nov. 2010. Web. 13 Nov. 2016.

Enriquez, Juan. Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo. TED. Feb. 2013. Lecture. 13 Nov.
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Park, Madison. "Miss Teen USA Questioned About Racial Slur." CNN. Cable News Network, 1

Aug. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

Sulllivan, Bob. "Online Privacy Fears Are Real." NBC News. NBCUniversal Media, 6 Dec.

2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.