We’ve seen a flurry of new laws come out over the past few years that attempt to maintain individual privacy in a world where the internet remembers all. In Europe, for instance, there’s the so-called “right to be forgotten.”
But these measures don’t capture the full picture of what is happening in the digital world. If you’re a company and you post something or get a bad review, it remains for all time. There’s usually nothing you can do about it.
Everyone, therefore, is becoming obsessed with their digital footprint. The internet is chock full of blogs reminding students who want jobs after they graduate not to post pictures of themselves drunk on Facebook. There are articles telling companies that they have to hire public relations experts who can manage potential social media PR disasters. And there are computer forensics expert witness services reminding people that they need to be careful about what they reveal online. Hackers lurk around every corner.
Are You Aware Of Your Digital Footprint?
Most people know that when they do something online, websites collect data and store it. That’s part and parcel of using the internet. But comparatively few people really have a gut feel for just how much of their data is out there.
If you’re struggling to get your head around this, just hop onto your Amazon account and take a look at your purchase history. You can view everything you’ve ever bought for the last twenty years.
That’s right; Amazon knows what you were buying two decades ago if you use the same account.
Digital Footprints Can Affect Business
The number of ways that digital footprints can affect business is extraordinary.
Unlike individuals looking for internet privacy, companies want an online presence. They want as much positive exposure as they can get to sell more goods and raise awareness. But the type of publicity matters. Having a good digital footprint is awesome. It builds your brand and enables you to expand your operations. Having a lousy footprint does the opposite and can be very damaging.
Then there’s the issue of security. Here, companies need to be careful. They want to divulge some information so that customers find it easy to get in touch with them. But they don’t want to provide so much that hackers could exploit them. It is a delicate balance.
It would help if you assumed that everything you publish online lasts forever. Even if you delete it from your accounts, there’s a chance that someone, somewhere has a copy.
For that reason, whatever content you create matters a lot. You need whatever you publish to remain consistent with your brand, regardless of who writes or produces it. Disjointed, inaccurate or, heaven forbid, “offensive” content may come back to bite you.
Of course, not all companies will manage their digital footprints. Some may actively embrace risk – especially those who want to create a scene. But that doesn’t mean that it is unimportant. Digital footprints last forever, and that’s kinda scary.