The digital footprint is the traces we leave behind when using the internet, consciously or unconsciously we put the information online to create a digital avatar of ourselves self-based on our liking, habits, and user preference.
We as a user might think we have nothing to hide but we don’t know that how this information out there is used for us. How our identities are stolen for financial and moral purposes. “Facebook” having a population bigger than any country ever is a platform that has invaded our lives and lifestyles in the digital age we breathe in.
Learning digital media means knowing how this information can be used to monetize from the marketer’s point of view. Lately, we were given an assignment to track the digital footprint of a few job seekers and to create a report to see how they look good on the digital map. I knew what was coming my way. Someone working on my profile came up with my fake “Facebook Identities”.
Facebook had 2 fake profiles using my pictures. Both described me more or less the same which was 50% close to my real auto. But someone who is smart will take a minute to realize they are fake with the trashy crowd in the following and using my display pictures to create content after altering them so it’s worth engagement.
This wasn’t the first time I had come across this but this is the first time I confess and going vocal about it. And me being vocal about it means I have tried my best to overcome all those social and mental blocks in these years to go public about how I feel on this issue. The first time I came across this was when a friend of mine told me about it years back and I reported and blocked it. But either someone specific or multiple people out there are consistent enough to do it again over a period of time. From the society I grew up in… yes, it’s a big deal that your images are with the internet beasts and they can use it as they like. The trashy crowd following my pictures made me felt trashier as I saw it. Confiding about all this in someone was just going to be making it more public that I never wanted so I didn’t share about it.
Like all the people who fall prey to social identity theft do, I became stricter in my privacy settings, got less active, and thought several times before posting any stuff out there, it felt like I was feeding the beast out there to cannibalize my original identity. I filtered and removed people from my friends list doubting every person in there if he or she was the source to share my pictures. Several times I end up thinking to quit all the social media platforms and not being part of anything. But every time I would end up debating in my mind that why do I have to give up not being part of the community while the chasers take the benefit. I am sure many of you would have gone through the same not being able to decide what to do. With all these arguments in mind, I decided to continue.
These profiles kept on coming off and on and I knew the drill how to report and get it removed. But every time a new person in my circle will come up and tell me about these profiles being out there. It wasn’t comforting. As I knew how people stuck with a particular mindset will interpret it socially.
The same questions were facing me in the mirror when I decided to go with my social media marketing consultancy, and sharing my thoughts scribbled in my WordPress blog with my real name. Because every customer who comes to you makes sure to search you on Google before coming your way. I was carrying an unwanted social media identity theft in baggage. Baggage created by someone I would never know about. But now I was in a different place, whereas “Facebook” as a platform was in a different product life cycle stage too where people would understand that fake profiles are nothing but a crap while few will hold their scared opinions to judge me as a person.
The choice was all mine and I decided to go ahead with the fact there will always be some fake profile of someone out there.
The whole point of sharing my story with the readers was that no matter how much control you put …your digital footprint created by you or others will remain there and will be used as per their (your audience) will not yours. The choice you have to make is to break those blocks in your mind and talk about it to get the elephant out of the room. You can control the information you share willingly but the bargain here you are making is that you don’t know-how among all those acquaintances and social friends that information is shared. It’s the same way as making a statement somewhere and all those in the audience will interpret it differently.
Here are few things technically you can do to keep a check that these activities don’t bounce upon you
The most important thing is to create your presence on social media sites using your real name and to avoid using pseudo-names. You may or may not update it; depends on your wish, though your presence should be stamped there to avoid others take-over your identity in your absence. Being present there is better than being absent and let someone else take the advantage of your absence.
Inform the administrators of a social media site, if you feel that your identity is misused by a stranger. Especially, photographs. They can be big trouble
Opt for SEO optimization for your site to bring your website to the top when someone searches for you over search engines. If you don’t do that all negativisms about you will pop-up in the higher place. Do you know that negative reviews rank well than positive reviews?
When you come across negative reviews through social media, respond to them and resolve the problem immediately to avoid further complications.
Install the best Internet Security Software available in the market. Cautiousness is essential when clicking links that pop-up in your window.
Selective acceptance of friend requests is always the best practice.
Have a strong password, so that any intimate people of yours will not be able to guess-out your password.
Using social networks at your workplace is not advisable since your social page’s data gets traced to the company server.
Deleting a particular photo or video feed that you had fed to social media sites is never the end of it, it’s not a solution.
The information lies there in the server forever.
It’s always best that you Google or Bing your name or your brand name on a regular basis and verify the results that the search engines return.
Struggling in the face of inertia in this digital age …
Are you willing to make this bargain?