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digital profiling

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Digital profiling is the process of gathering and analyzing information about an individual that exists online. A digital profile can include information about personal characteristics, behaviors, affiliations, connections and interactions. Digital profiling is used in marketing, enterprise security, criminal justice and recruitment, among other areas.

In enterprise security, digital profiling is used to identify suspect employees and protect the organization from an insider threat. An employee may be singled out because of suspicious behavior. To determine whether he really poses a risk to the company, his online behavior may be scrutinized a digital profile assembled. In a low-profile case, information would typically be gathered through corporate email, logs and social media content, connections and posts. In a more high-profile case, investigators might employ surveillance technologies for a more complex profile of the individual.

In criminal justice, digital profiling is used to identify suspected criminals and people of interest. Law enforcement officials work with forensic psychologists and combine a digital profile with other information that is known about a given individual.

In human resources (HR), recruiters and hiring managers use digital profiling to find and assess potential employees. In combination with traditional employee vetting using resumes and interviews, potential hires are evaluated based on their digital profiles, or online footprints. Recruiters may use social media sites for professionals like LinkedIn, where users can create profiles that will be appealing to potential employers. Social media activity can add to a candidate's digital profile both positively and negatively, as social media analytics become a larger part of recruiting efforts by employers.

This was last updated in August 2017

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