“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates
Positive Digital Footprint Plan
In developing a plan to help ensure I maintain a positive online reputation, I first had to think about how I use the Internet. Before enrolling in the M.E.T. program, my online usage was very basic. I had never published anything online and according to my digital footprint, my presence was nearly invisible. Now all of that has changed and my digital footprint has grown considerably. Since this has happened, I must remain vigilant and follow the plan I have outlined below:
· Create a Strategy – Before I decide to join any type of social media or post anything online, I must ask myself why am I doing this. If I am unable to positively identify the reason, then I should reconsider. Will Richardson reminds us that “Publishing content online not only begins the process of becoming “Googleable,” it also makes us findable by others who share our passions or interests.”
· Observe First – I understand “lurkers” are not always looked upon favorably in social media, but I want to feel safe before I begin interacting with the unknown. As defined by Wikipedia, “… a lurker is typically a member of an online community who observes, but does not actively participate. The exact definition depends on context. Lurkers make up a large proportion of all users in online communities Lurking allows users to learn the conventions of an online community before they actively participate, improving their socialization when they eventually de-lurk.”
· Stay Active and Aware – It is important to remain active with the sites you have chosen to become a member of. Duncan Morris believes that “Building your profile in online communities can be an incredible way to get your name known and to build a reputation.”
· Be Proactive – Besides remaining active with the sites you have chosen to use, a person needs to be proactive in protecting themselves. Justin Boyle shares that “A host of browser extensions and app add-ons can also limit the surreptitious capture of personal information. Disconnect (Disconnect.me), DoNotTrackMe (Abine.com) and Ghostery (Ghostery.com) are examples of cross-platform extensions that block tracking cookies and give users control over site scripts.
· Track Yourself – According to Melissa Bell who writes for The Washington Post, it is a good idea to periodically search for yourself. “Set up Google Alerts (Google.com/alerts) on your name, nicknames or personal businesses. Google will e-mail you any time new information about you is put online. To see what’s out there now, check Pipl.com. It’s a search engine that lets you search by name, address or e-mail.”
· Clean Up Your Footprint – As with any aspect of life, periodically one should do some housekeeping. Thomas Smith, Director of the New York Office of Information Technology Services states, “Clean up your footprint. Remove any photos, content and links that are inappropriate or reveal too much information.” Regardless of ones situation, it is never a good idea to have too much information available to anyone. This is especially true for job seekers. Perspective employers have resorted to online searches to investigate potential employees. Should anything questionable be discovered, the job opportunity may disappear.
· Keep private things private, while assuming nothing is truly private – In the 21st century, very little is private especially when dealing with the Internet and social media. “You can, and should, put privacy setting on all content you want to share only with a select group of friends and family. However Facebook and other sites are constantly changing the rules about how much you can protect your content, and your friends can forward embarrassing pictures of you without your consent,” states Susan Adams of Forbes Magazine.
· Be Aware of Photos – While one may be tempted to share photos of every event that occurs in your life, use caution. “Don’t post a lot of photos to social media, in general, about your families. Basically, don’t over-share,” according to Carolyn O’Hara of Forbes Magazine. Sharing special events online may seem like a good idea, however do this only if you are comfortable with the world seeing them. Remember once the photos have been posted, they are posted for life.
· Keep an Updated List, Know Where You Have Been – One can very easily lose track of websites where accounts have been created. Justin Boyle suggests that it is a good idea to “…delete the ones you no longer use.” This will help one to better manage their digital footprint and hopefully reduce the chance for misuse.
· Stay Organized – Melissa Bell states, “It’s time to shed the old social sites.” If you are not going to use the site anymore, then it is a good idea to deactivate the account. Why keep an account open if you have no intention of ever going there again.