We’ve talked about how everything you post becomes part of your digital dossier or digital footprint, but did you know you have both an active and a passive footprint? The active footprint is what YOU post online. Your passive footprint is what others write or post about you.
As a good digital citizen, you want to create a positive image or ‘brand’. We’ve already mentioned that you need to search yourself online. To expand on that, add modifiers such as jobs, schools, and/or locations. You can also set up a google alert so you know when something is posted about you. Just like you check your credit history to make sure you have a positive financial image, you need to do the same thing digitally.
When creating an Active Footprint, remember to think before you post!
Things you DON’T want to post: (hopefully we know this as adults, but it’s good to share with our students and children)
- Inappropriate pictures
- Posts about drinking and/or drug use (even in states like Washington and Colorado where it is legal!)
- Rants about current or previous employers and/or co-workers
- Posts that use poor grammar and spelling
- Posts that degrade or harass
- Lies about your qualifications (this is especially true on professional sites like LinkedIn)
Things you DO want to post:
- Positive things that highlight your personality
- Things that show your creativity
- Variety of interests and activities
- Be proud of those awards (but remember the fine line between confidence and arrogance)
- Express opinions but remember not to degrade those who disagree with you
- If you wouldn’t say it in person, then you probably shouldn’t be posting it either
As for the Passive Footprint, what can you do?
- Control your privacy settings – each social media site is different, make sure you’re aware of who can post about you in each setting
- Watch what you share – keep personal information personal
- Be selective of who you connect with on social media networks
- Use your real name when creating profiles on networks – that silly email address will come back to haunt you
- Be selective on which sites you join
- Do a google search often, just like you do a credit check
- If what you post is positive, it makes it difficult for others to post negatives about you
Remember, also, what you post about others becomes part of their digital footprint.
- Is that unflattering picture of your sister really how you want people to see her?
- Your daughter broke curfew, but do you really need to publicly shame her online?
- Your significant other has to work late because someone messed up a big project, but does the world really need to know who it was and how it ruined your dinner plans?
- Before you post, think of these three questions: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?
What you post online never really goes away, even if you delete it. It’s not like leaving footprints in the sand. It’s more like walking through wet cement.