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Data Mining: What Your Digital Footprint Says About You

Hello everyone, my name is Caroline Nolen. I am a junior Communication Studies major with a double concentration in strategic communication and broadcast production. I recently had the privilege of joining the Allan P. Kirby Center this past summer as a Scholar of Communication. I am also the Assistant Director of Zebra Communications, our student run public relations firm on campus.

The basis of data mining lies within the analysis of the digital footprint each of us leaves behind. From any articles or news segments we may appear in to our personal social media and the content we post, everything involving us on the internet can be found.

If you are anywhere around the age of most college students, you may have heard professors or parents tell you not to post inappropriate content online. This is for the sole purpose of creating a reputable digital footprint. We are told that having a good or “clean” digital footprint will aid us when applying for jobs and when employers are vetting their applicants.

With that being said, I’ve curated a list of ways to make sure you have a beneficial digital footprint.

Ways to “Clean Up” Your Digital Footprint

#1 Delete and Deactivate

A few years ago, Instagram had the idea of “Finsta” or fake Instagram going viral. This was very popular amongst teens until it was taken over by Snapchat’s private stories.

“Finstas” allowed teens to post the unedited version of their lives on social media. Their friends were able to follow their daily activities without the filters and well thought captions. This version is more raw but can also come back to haunt us if inappropriate things are posted through these platforms. Best advice is to find those old accounts that we don't want anyone to see and delete, or even deactivate them before they get the chance.

#2 Manage Privacy Settings

Disclaimer: There is no way to completely keep all information about ourselves private, but there are many ways we can try to filter who sees what we post.

When geared toward social media specifically, we are able to make our accounts private. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok all have ways to make personal accounts private. These are simple ways to keep posts containing close family and friends as private as possible from the public eye.

#3 Curate Your Online Presence

To reiterate what I previously mentioned, be cautious of what you put on an online platform. Try to avoid posting things that you would mind other people with access to internet viewing.

A few examples would be avoiding posting pictures with alcohol in them or profanity in the caption. It may become difficult trying to control public networks publishing content that you are the subject of. However, avoiding speaking on controversial topics or asking simple questions on what will be done with the information will aid in this process.

Overall, these are a few ideas of how each of us can keep our digital footprint clean. All these ideas help protect the information we produce about ourselves as much as we can. This in turn will help when someone either types our name into Google or tries to stalk us on social media.

Thank you for reading and look at your digital footprint every once in a while, it’ll be interesting in what you find!


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