After getting started on this very site, I have been checking Google for my site to see how specific I need to search for it to show up. I have a few people to compete with, worst of which is a male porn star/underwear model that shares my name and a president that shares my middle name (my grandma's second cousin, Calvin Coolidge). However, upon seeing my digital footprint, once I found me, I rediscovered a blog I did many years ago. Partly, it was nice to see and I pulled a few things from there I had forgotten to copy previously, but much of it was stuff I wanted to be deleted. What to do?
Many people think deleting the account is the way to go, but I've seen that it only makes it impossible to change the information that remains, so I decided to delete each piece individually, while keeping the account open until I couldn't find them anymore. I'm no expert in privacy, but it seems the best way to hide, aside from being a disconnected hermit, is to take on your footprint head on. This is what is wrong with information online, but we can also take advantage, by burying information with other information. Deleting works sometimes, but controlling what is out there about you by putting stuff you want out there out there works as well. When you Google my full name (without the middle name still pulls up the porn star - be warned) you get my website first and that is what I want to see. I've managed to get rid of everything else on regular searches. The real question is, how much is still out there copied on servers and in the government, and that is the real danger.
Not posting in the first place is the best way to control your footprint. Perhaps we should embrace the shift as Laura Stockman has, while always keeping eyes and minds open to possible problems with everything we post (Richardson, 2008). We should be thinking about our posts online like we think about the words that we say. We watch our words in public and around our parents, but we open up to our friends. Kids should know that online is almost always a public place and they should use words and only post information that they are comfortable with the public knowing. This is still a new technology and people are still adjusting to it, but a kid who has been taught these ideas about life can function most effectively online. Click below for tips for how to protect your digital footprint for students.
Richardson, W. (2008). Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership, 66, 16-19. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov08/vol66/num03/Footprints-in-the-Digital-Age.aspx