Digital footprint management (DFM) is an approach to controlling the amount and types of electronic data existing about a particular individual that can in some way be traced back to them.
A digital footprint, sometimes called a digital dossier, is the body of data that exists as a result of an individual’s actions and communications online. Data in digital footprints can impact an individual’s career and personal relationships. It can also lead to security vulnerabilities, for example by providing details that enable identity theft.
A person’s digital footprint is relatively permanent and it is very difficult to eradicate data traces once they become public. Other people might copy or share them and the person who originally posted them has little control over the matter. For that reason, a major focus of digital footprint management is limiting the amount of data created in the first place and being judicious about what data you make available online.
The New York State division of Homeland Security offers the following advice:
- Clean up your footprint. Remove any photos, content and links that are inappropriate or reveal too much information.
- Be selective about who you authorize to access your information.
- Monitor comments made by others.
- Consider using the "block comments" feature or setting your social networking profile to "private" so only designated friends can view your information.
- Think before you post.