The internet has been an extension of my life since around the fifth grade when our family acquired our first computer. It ran windows 95 and had a dial up connection. I quickly latched on to it claiming it as mine although I was forced to share it. I grew up being connected to the internet; as did everyone else in my generation.
Everyone these days has at least one online account if you have a smartphone or use a computer regularly. Our personal data floats around in the dark crevices of the interweb, and it can haunt us later in life if you are not careful about what you put out there. Keep your reputation in top notch shape, and always protect your identity.
The older I get the more cautious I am about what I post online. In the past 6 months I have been undergoing a personal project to reduce/manage my digital footprint.
So far I have closed the following accounts:
- Model Mayhem
- Living Social
- Deleted 1 of 3 tumblr blogs.
- Deleted 1 of 2 twitter accounts.
- Cleaned up my main twitter account, organized people into lists, unfollowed roughly 15 people, and revoked access to numerous applications.
- I have unfriended roughly 400 facebook friends, unliked/unfollowed numerous pages, dropped out of groups, deleted images/albums, deleted notes, and increased privacy.
- Unsubscribed from 30 blogs in my RSS reader.
- I have also been unsubscribing from numerous email campaigns.
I feel an overwhelming amount of relief after closing these accounts. I still have more to go, but it has been a good start. My level of productivity at work and in my personal life has sky rocketed. I no longer receive hundreds of updates each day from google reader, no more constant emails, and I no longer have to sign in to multiple accounts to manage my photography/design portfolio. I also feel better knowing that my data is more secured on my social accounts. When I (grow up) have a family in the future I will be taking Caitlin’s advice – Why You Won’t See My Child (Or Even His Name) On Facebook – It’s never to late to start protecting your personal information. I am still an avid user of Instagram, Google+, Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter. It will take some time and effort to give those up, but I am willing once the time is right for me.
Tips for managing or reducing your digital footprint.
- Manage your online interactions with others.
- Take control of your privacy; set online accounts to private.
- Do not post what you would not want someone else knowing about you.
- Use cation in how you interact with others on social websites.
- Clean up your footprint – Remove photos, close online accounts, and delete old comments on websites and forums.
- Stop using the internet as a mindless hub for entertainment, and limit your activity.
- Google yourself and see what comes up.
There are also numerous tools to help you identify what information you may have on the internet. Some of the websites are paid and some are free. I am not affiliated with any of the services listed below.
- JustDelete.me – Directory of links to easily delete your web accounts.
- White Pages
- Google Alerts – You can set up an alert whenever your name is queried.
- Privacy Choice
- My Life
- Remove Your Name
- Reputation Champ
- Unroll.me – Manage and unsubscribe from unwanted emails.