How to clean up your online digital footprint?

Every activity you do online is recorded and is permanent; once you're in it, there is no going back, be it a comment that you have posted on your friend's post or a photo you have shared online, everything is a part of your digital footprint. Advertisers and cybercriminals can use this information, including your IP address, usernames and passwords, and other identifying information, to create a digital trail or footprint that advertisers and cybercriminals can use to target you.

So how can you delete or clean up this digital footprint of yours? We will be discussing all of it in this article.

Types of Digital Footprint

There are two types of digital footprints present; they are active and passive digital footprints.

  • Active digital footprints − Users deliberately share their activities, such as social media, online chats, phone conversations, or blog postings, inactive data-trace. The data is shared openly or semipublicly in this case.

  • Passive digital footprints − The footprint is formed unintentionally in passive data-trace. Users do not disclose data in this case, but a trail is left behind that can be utilized to track the users' activities. It covers things like exploring the Internet, viewing websites, making purchases online, filling out forms online, and doing surveys online. This information can be utilized better to analyze user sentiments, marketing trends, and analytics.

How to Clean up Your Digital Footprint?

  • Try searching your name online − Most of us have been here on the Internet for a long time and probably don't remember all our activity online, so search for your name online and find yourself in another person's point of view. If you don't want others to see about you, which you have accidentally posted before, take appropriate steps to remove it.

  • Clear your browsing history − Every time you search for something on the Internet, it is being stored somewhere. These search details can be made into valuable data by analyzing and interpreting the history of a month or less; it can reveal a lot about you.

  • Deactivate any accounts you don't use anymore − People can still find them, including any humiliating material. Maybe it is your old Orkut account or MySpace account, whichever it tries to reduce the number of these ghost accounts. Pay special attention to online purchasing accounts that save financial information; remove it if you know you won't use the account again. If you can avoid storing your credit card number on a website, do so.

  • Don't share too much on social media − We've all got that one friend who shares far too many personal details about their lives on social media. This is not only inconvenient, but it also puts your personal information in danger. Check your privacy settings to check who has access to your postings, and be cautious about sharing your location, hometown, birthdate, or other personal information.

  • Use a VPN − You may clear up your digital footprint by masking your IP address with a virtual private network (VPN). Advertisers track your location using your IP address to fill your feeds with advertising. Hide your IP address to defend your Internet freedom by making it more difficult for advertisers and governments to track your location.

  • Keep your device software updated − Most of us ignore when we see a notification to update our software but what you don't see is that in most software updates, many security patches come along with it. They update the software with new security holes they have found, so always keep your anti-virus and software up to date.

  • Make changes to your privacy settings − Some apps automatically share information about you with third parties, including your contacts, files stored on your smartphone, and geolocation data. As a result, you should verify the privacy settings of each app you use to ensure that you are not disclosing too much personal information. You should also limit who can see your postings by changing the privacy settings of your social media accounts. Your digital footprint will be smaller in general if fewer people view your content.