How to Keep Your Digital Footprint Clean in 2017
We’re at that ‘limbo’ time of the year where we’re over the hectic-ness of Christmas, but not quite back into the hectic-ness of life. It’s the perfect time to tidy up all those loose ends you’ve been acquiring throughout the past 12 months!
As a “tech person” my mind naturally wanders to those “tech” loose ends! The beginning of the year is the perfect time to clean up your digital footprint, ready for the year ahead; both professionally and personally.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a useful place to start! I would love to hear what else you do to clean up your digital footprint in the comments section below.
Ways to clean up your digital footprint:
The best way to clean up your digital footprint? Know what you’re working with! Try searching up your name on the various search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo are good ones to start with. This will give you a good indication of what other people – such as prospective or current employers – will see if they search for you online.
Update account passwords
Passwords are basically all that stands between you and hackers who want your personal data and money. That’s why it’s so important to change your passwords frequently. When doing so ensure they are strong – mixture of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers, symbols and do not form easily recognisable words or names (keep in mind: hackers can use software that automatically cross-checks your password against dictionary words, including dictionary words with letters substituted for numbers!)
If you’re anything like me, you may get too caught up with life to update your passwords as frequently as you should. The start of the year is the perfect time to sit down and systematically update all your important account passwords – just remember to keep the most important ones different from each another!
Unsubscribe from unread mailing lists
Think about the number of emails you receive because you subscribed to some list or another. Some will be invaluable to you, and you’ll hang out every month for the next one to come through (such as mine…wink wink!) However, others will sit in your inbox gathering dust month after month. Take the time now to sift through your mail subscriptions and select the “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of all the emails you know you’ll never have the time to read.
Review location settings on devices
More and more apps are relying on the location services on your smart device to collect data about you or help serve you better. Some are invaluable, but others may not be as necessary and could even put your privacy at risk. Take the time to review the location settings on your device and decide who needs to know exactly where you physically are at any one moment. Instructions for doing this vary from device to device but for example, on an iPhone you can go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and review the settings for each app you’ve downloaded.
Review privacy settings
Speaking of privacy, many social networking sites will update their privacy features throughout the year. Sometimes without realising, you may have more personal information public than you would like. Set aside an hour and review the settings on all your social networking accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc). Make sure you are comfortable with how much is being displayed. Most sites will provide you with instructions on how to adjust your privacy settings.
Review your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your talents and network with other professionals. Have you acquired any new skills or experience throughout the previous year that you can add to your profile? Use this time to build the professional reputation and image for yourself that you want portrayed in 2017.
Check for software updates
This is an easy one to let slide. Companies like Apple release software updates for their computers/phones/tablets regularly – to fix bugs, improve security and update features. It is so important to update your device regularly, but often it can take time to do so. Be sure to plug your device into its charger and have a full backup of your data completed before you get underway.
Clean up the apps
It’s easy to get excited throughout the year and add app after app to your device. Often, they are useful in the moment, or provide entertainment for a limited period of time. These unused apps are just causing clutter – so take the time to sift through what you’ve downloaded and get rid of anything you don’t see yourself using in the near future!
Build a positive reputation
Finally, think about the person you want to be viewed as. Everything you share, post and create online forms part of your digital reputation. Employers, colleagues, family and friends will come across your online profile – so you want to make sure it’s one you’re happy with! Always think before you post – is it kind? is it appropriate? is it professional?
I would love to hear what else you would add to this list in the comments section below. Also, don’t forget to share with your friends!
My name is Kim Maslin, and I’m a West Australian educator who is passionate about digital technologies and developing healthy life-long learning habits. I provide a range of ICT-related seminars and workshops, as well as web design & digital marketing services. I am also a teacher and Digital Learning Coordinator. You can find out more about me here.