The Digital Footprint: A Walk through the WWW
A post on social media, the quickly sent mail and every click made online: All of these leave traces on the Internet that you can't get rid of and reveal a lot about you. But what exactly is this "digital footprint?"
But what exactly is this "digital footprint?"
But what exactly is this "digital footprint"? After searching for I-Pads online yesterday, you are suddenly offered them everywhere today? In addition, on the social media, fantastic overnight accommodations in Italy appear after you googled vacation homes in the land of pizza and pasta yesterday? That this is no coincidence is now well known. After all [...]
Normally, we associate the term "footprint" more with, for example, imprints in the sand. Every step, no matter how small, leaves traces and offers the opportunity to follow them.
The digital footprint, in turn, refers to all data that is generated as a result of all online activities and communication and can be traced back to an individual person or at least a household. This includes all apps used, all queries made on the Internet and data uploaded or downloaded, sent and received online.
Unlike a beach footprint that fades or is washed away by the sea, the Internet forgets nothing. Every action is permanently stored.
Active and passive digital footprint
The digital footprint can be divided into active and passive. If data is consciously left behind on the Internet, we are talking about the active digital footprint. This includes search queries, for example, but also public comments on social media and the posting of pictures and videos. Likewise, private data exchange on WhatsApp and other platforms is also included. Passive digital footprints, on the other hand, are all traces that are left behind unintentionally. For example, information on how often or how long a certain website was used or unknowingly installed cookies that collect information without the user knowing.
The business with data
Cookies refer to small files that websites store on your computer after your first visit to track user activity. They also allow you to save items in a shopping cart, preferences or login information, and create personalized suggestions based on your location or interests. All this information is collected and resold by the advertiser, employers and companies. All the information collected is used to build a picture of you as a person and your preferences. This allows personalized ads and posts to be shown to you. All of this data is more important than ever in today's digital economy. The statement that the digital footprint is the oil of today may sound exaggerated at first, yet it comes frighteningly close to the truth.
You may not care that third parties know your shoe size or preferred handbag model, but more private data such as religion or sexual preference may not want to be easily shared.
Read our new article "Being aware of your digital footprint" starting next week.