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Your Digital Footprint: Overview

“Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record.  The best plan is to overload Google
with good stuff and to always act as if you’re on candid camera, because you are!”
  ~Seth Godin

What is a digital footprint?
How is data collected?
What footprint do you leave?
Protect yourself!
Learn more!


What is a digital footprint?

A digital footprint is the information about a person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity. Your digital footprint includes

your, address, phone number, school, clubs, any other specific information about you that is shared online.

the text and photos you post to social media.

your browsing habits and the comments you leave behind.

what others say about you online.

what you shop for or buy online.

Or watch ​
Common Sense Media's Introduction to  Digital Footprints



How is data collected?

Your settings online only offer partial protection. Data is collected both passively and actively, then distributed in the same way. It is mobile, easily copied, shared, findable, and hard to erase!

Passive Data Active Data
  • data collected without client knowledge
  • offline use is stored in files as they are created
  • web browsing leaves digital shadow gathered via site hits and cookies, recording IP address, time of access, etc.
  • information is available to and used by marketers, researchers, law enforcement agencies (no probable cause required)
  • some proxy servers collect every keystroke you make!
  • data released by user
  • created online when logging on, posting, editing
  • created offline through a keylogger
  • social media networks leave a personally authored  data life  stream that includes personal interest trends, social affiliations, behaviors, and location.
  • personal privacy settings can be compromised by applications within social media sites

What footprint do you leave?

Want to use your phone or other mobile device? 



Now go Google yourself!

  • Search using incognito/private mode. OR, have a family member search. WHY? In regular search mode, Google uses the cookies stored in your system to search. This can change results.
  • Use relative searching! Put your name in quotes and then add another identifying detail, such as the city you live in.
  • Use various versions of your name
First name - Last name
First name - Middle name - Last name
First name - Middle initial - Last name
  • Use the Google Alerts tool, Me on the Web. This won't work on your school account.
  • Try other search engines, too.   

And check your leads!

  • Find out who links to your blogs/websites.  In Google or other common search engines, simply enter "" 
  • Do a search of Twitter, FaceBook, and other social media platforms to locate accounts associated with you.  
  • See what comes up when you search your name in a people finder service such as SpokeoPeek You! or Pipl, to get a picture of how well known you are. Full results usually require payment.
  • AT HOME: Share what you know with friends and family.

Protect yourself!

Check your privacy settings!

  • Don't assume that these settings default to the safest settings. 
  • Learn how to lock, block and unblock your accounts.

Create strong passwords! 

  • Include a combination of  words  using symbols, upper and lower case letters, and numbers.
  • Make sure the words aren't you or to one another!  Try Dinopass to create good, easy to remember passwords.  Need something really strong?  Try

...and change them often.

Do regular updates!

  • Update your phones and other personal devices to enable protections against the newest hacks.
  • Turn your Chromebook all the way OFF (no lights) at least once a week so that it remains updated.  

Check your apps!

  • Unused mobile apps may no longer be supported and can be vulnerable to hacking.
  • Chromebook extensions and apps can contain viruses.  Be sure you thoroughly vet any app/extension you add.
  • Read the security agreements.  Don't agree (or log on with Google/Facebook) if the app will share too much info or ask to control critical features of your account (settings, passwords, etc.)

Build your own reputation!

When social media first emerged, it was fun and somewhat frivolous.  But we now know that social media isn't going anywhere, anytime soon.  It's moved beyond a social phenomenon to be come a way in which people and society (and their economies) interact.  In other words, your social media profile is part of your resume.  Start taking control of it now.

  • Post with a purpose! Bury old or unfavorable information beneath a flurry of great things. Post links to articles in the paper that feature you. Post positive thoughts and ideas.  
  • Take control of what others post.  Untag yourself if it's not flattering. Tell people if you are uncomfortable with what they are sharing.

Where do old social media posts go to die?

OR try out one of our powerful subscription databases...

SIRS is a database subscribed to through your library.  It's especially helpful when preparing for debate-like discussions, as it highlights opposing viewpoint related to the same question.  Below are a few of the essential questions related to your socratic seminar and covered in SIRS topics. If you'd like to explore others, click here

GALE Student Resources-in-Context and Global Resources-in-Context also provide some topic overviews rich with resources.  Resources-in-Context has a curated topic page on social media for you to browse.  You can search Global Resources-in-Context

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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