What is a digital footprint?

When you Google someone, what comes up? If it’s a person’s name, chances are you’ll see their social media profiles, articles they’ve written, and maybe even reviews of them. This is called a digital footprint.

A digital footprint is the trace a person leaves behind them in the digital world. It can be something as simple as the way they interact with a website, to more complex data such as their financial information or medical records. A person’s digital footprint can have a big impact on their lives, and it’s important to be aware of what it is and how to protect it.

The different types of digital footprints

There are three main types of digital footprints:

  • Active footprints are those that we leave intentionally, such as when we post something on social media or fill out an online form.
  • Passive footprints are those that we leave unintentionally, such as when our browsing history is tracked or our IP address is logged.
  • Metadata footprints are those that are created about us, such as when our email is scanned for keywords or our location is tracked by GPS.

Also depending on how they’re used, digital footprints can be positive or negative.

Positive digital footprints are those that show you in a good light. For example, if you have a blog about your favourite hobby, that would be considered a positive footprint. Or if you’re active on social media and use it to share interesting articles and engaging with others in thoughtful discussion, that would also be considered positive.

Negative digital footprints are those that could potentially harm your reputation. For example, if you post inflammatory comments on social media or write hateful messages on forums, that could come back to haunt you later on.

The benefits of having a positive digital footprint

A positive digital footprint is one that reflects your best qualities and represents you in a good light.

There are several benefits to having a positive digital footprint. One is that it can help you land a job. Many employers now research candidates online before making a hiring decision. If they see a positive digital footprint, it can give you a leg up on the competition.

Another benefit is that it can help you build and maintain relationships. If people see that you’re a trustworthy and reliable person, they’re more likely to want to do business with you or be friends with you.

Finally, having a positive digital footprint can simply make you feel good about yourself.

The consequences of having a negative digital footprint

A negative digital footprint can have consequences for a person’s reputation and career.

For example, if an employer does a background check and sees that an applicant has made derogatory comments about other employees online, they may decide not to hire that person. Or, if someone is trying to sell their house and potential buyers do a search on the address and find that the current owner has been leaving negative reviews of businesses in the area, they may be less likely to make an offer.

A negative digital footprint can also damage relationships. For example, if a romantic partner finds something negative about the other person online, it can lead to trust issues or even break-up.

How to manage your digital footprint

Most of us are not immune to the impact of a negative digital footprint. We may come across something that is not true, or we may find something that was posted by someone else and mistakenly link it to us. We will not always be able to control what others post about us, but we can prevent it from becoming a problem by managing our digital footprint.

It’s important to be aware of the digital footprint you’re leaving behind. Here are some tips on how to manage yours: 

  • Be thoughtful about what you share online. Consider whether or not something is worth sharing before hitting the post button. Once something is out there, it’s very difficult to take back.
  • Be cautious about who you friend or follow online. Not everyone has your best interests at heart and some people may try to use your information against you.
  • Keep your passwords secure and don’t reuse them across different accounts. If one of your accounts is compromised, all of your other accounts are at risk as well.
  • Regularly check the privacy settings on your social media accounts and make sure only people who you want to have access to your information actually do have access to it.


In conclusion, a digital footprint is the online presence that a person leaves behind. It can be used to track a person’s online activity and interactions. There are different types of digital footprints, and each one has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. To manage your digital footprint, you need to be aware of what you’re doing and how it might affect your reputation.

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