Your digital footprint is data that shows a record of your online interactions. This could include websites you have visited, posts you have left on social media and things people have said about or to you on social media. If you delete a social media post, it may remain accessible online, even if you can’t see it. Web content is captured by internet robots that crawl the web and index content.
Watch Teen Voices: Oversharing and your digital footprint about oversharing in social media and how that will affect your digital footprint.
Whenever you visit an online site, you are leaving behind a digital footprint via technology such as cookies. These bits of data allow websites to remember that you have visited and what you have done on the site. You can read more about cookies in the Internet Essentials module.
What does my current digital footprint look like?
Search for yourself online to see what comes up. If there is online content that you regret, it’s not too late to do something about it:
- Delete posts or photos that are publicly available that no longer represent you.
- Change your privacy settings.
- Unfollow or unsubscribe from groups or posts that you no longer want to be associated with.
- Untag yourself from other’s posts or ask them to remove the content.
What if there is content that I regret that I can’t remove from online?
We all make mistakes, especially when we are young. There are plenty of examples of celebrities and politicians who have apologised, and been forgiven, for actions or beliefs recorded online that they no longer endorse. From now on, try to only associate yourself with things that you won’t feel embarrassed about or regret in the future.
If you feel concerned about your health and wellbeing, don’t hesitate to access Student Support services.
The Digital security module has tips protecting your privacy.
Familiarise yourself with social media privacy settings and what information you share online with others.
Some social media platforms and their privacy settings:
- Facebook frequently changes privacy policies and settings. To ensure your photos, personal information and comments remain private you should regularly check your privacy settings. Facebook privacy settings has more information.
- LinkedIn allows you to see who is viewing your information and to restrict viewing access. However, you will need to activate these settings yourself. Visit LinkedIn privacy settings to find out more.
- One thing to remember when using Twitter is that your tweets are public by default. There are some additional settings to make sure your information is private and that the tweets you send are going to the right audience. Explore Twitter privacy settings to learn more.
Watch How to remove apps that access your Facebook data (YouTube, 2m18s) for more tips.
- The nightmare of mopping up your online reputation and the right to be forgotten
- Does the right to be forgotten exist in Australia?
You have probably heard of the Optus data leak. In the 2022 Optus data leak, the personal information of more than 11.2 million people was leaked including email addresses, full names, passports and drivers licences, and addresses. This is very scary as your information is out there ready to grab! Whilst we can’t control for corporate data leaks, here are some ways to protect yourself while using social media.
Keeping your social media secure
Everyone thinks about their personal safety. You make sure your home is locked when you leave it, you ensure your wallet or phone are not easy to steal. As we take our physical safety seriously, we should also take our online safety seriously. The internet has brought opportunities to connect with others but there are also threats like scams and identity theft. The Australian Government provides information on online safety and the Digital Security module gives more information on cyber security and staying safe online.
Using a VPN
Sometimes when you access certain networks that are public or not encrypted, you are exposing yourself to risks as that network might be hacked. In such times, it can be good to install a VPN to protect yourself while browsing. UQ provides a VPN for students.
Unfortunately, there are numerous scams being run at any time on all forms of social media. Many are very sophiscated and can catch out even the most savvy users. To keep up-to-date with the latest scams, visit:
Remember, if you are unsure, check it out. Never give any personal details or follow links from unsolicited messages. Always thoroughly investigate before handing over your money.
Phishing is one way cyber criminals try to steal your personal information. It involves the attacker sending or posting fake messages, often pretending to be from people or organisations you trust. This could be family members, banks, companies or government organisations such as the Australian Tax Office (ATO). This can lead to identity theft, money loss or loss of sensitive information. A form of phishing is spear phishing, where the attack is designed specifically for a targeted person. (Australian Cyber Security Centre).
Read Don’t fall victim to these common social networking scams to learn about some common phishing attacks used on social media.