The Privacy of Your Digital Identity and Personal Data

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by Alexander Walsh

Chances are you use the Internet daily to update your social profiles and communicate with others. Although convenient, you may not realize your digital identity is composed of the information and data you leave behind while browsing and chatting online. As a student, it’s important to consider your social media presence and the online profiles you maintain before starting your job search. Every time you post, share or update something online, you’re actively adding to your digital identity. In this article, we’ll be discussing the evolution of your digital identity, and sharing tips that could help you land your first job!

Why your digital identity matters

Unfortunately, nothing you share online is completely private. Furthermore, the things you’re doing or sharing publicly could leave a potential employer with the wrong impression. Although it may seem fun at the time to share pictures of your weekend or post a ridiculous comment, instead consider how difficult it could be to remove that in the future. Remember, your activity leads to the evolution of your digital identity, and will at one point become a searchable web presence that reflects you as an individual. It may not seem important while you’re in school, but a simple Google search performed by a potential employer could make a significant difference.

Where can I find my digital identity?

Simply start by opening your web browser in a private or incognito mode. In a new Google search, type your first and last name; you could also include your middle initial, search your nicknames, or include the state in which you live. Scroll through the results and open everything that mentions you by name. This could include social accounts you use regularly, news articles, comments, or posts you made on 3rd party sites. Locate the content and sources mentioning your name and read it carefully. You’re looking for any results that may be unfavorable, don’t represent you accurately, or highlight inappropriate comments or photos.

Preparing your digital identity for the future

  • Remove unfavorable content: Comb through all of your posts, comments, and photos shared online. If you come across something you’ve posted that could be inappropriate or taken out of context, delete it. However, if you find your information on another site, you should contact the poster directly and politely ask for the content to be removed or edited for accuracy. Students with a relatively new digital identity should take precautions to avoid oversharing online, as this could be the first thing to pop up in the results of a Google search. Google considers fresh content to be one of the factors in its algorithm that makes items appear at the top of a search.
  • Prepare a digital portfolio: As a student preparing for graduation, it’s important to start showcasing your talents and successes. Something potential employers like to see is a digital portfolio that highlights your resume, personal accomplishments, and work-related experience. An online portfolio is easy to update and share, making it the perfect tool to represent your physical and digital identity. Do you need help getting started, or are you looking for a critique? Our career center has individuals ready to read over your portfolio.
  • Set yourself apart: Highlight your character by showcasing your involvement in your community, and positive attitude. Do you have a fantastic research paper you’ve been working on? Consider submitting it for review, sharing it with an online publication, or posting it to your digital portfolio so others can reference your work.
  • Stay alert: As mentioned above, you should Google your name regularly. Consider setting up a Google alert of your name to see the most up to date results. If you notice something new appear that is inaccurate, ask the author for changes or send them something more favorable to share instead.

Don’t ignore security:

  • Updates- When was the last time you updated your devices and software? The pop-ups your computer sends you to update software can be distracting, so avoid all the pesky notifications and the next time you see it and click install. Enabling automatic updates on your devices, applications, and software helps you keep them free of potential bugs and security vulnerabilities.
  • Passwords- How long has it been since you created entirely unique and new passwords? If you reuse or slightly modify passwords across multiple accounts, it’s time to reconsider. Every password you use should be unique, and composed with both letters, numbers, and special characters. However, If you have trouble remembering them, consider using a secure password manager.
  • Antivirus software- Chances are high that you frequently use public wifi networks, download, or shop online. Sharing highly sensitive information during these activities such as credit card numbers and login credentials is desirable to cybercriminals. If you accidentally download a contaminated file, you could be introducing malware used to gain access and control of your network, devices, and stored data. In many cases, the default security tools on your device are useless against advanced attacks. If you have multiple devices, you may want to consider researching antivirus software that works across all of them. Furthermore, when combined with up-to-date software and strong passwords, a secure machine will help you stay defended against malware, accidental breaches, data loss, and even student identity theft.

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Alex Walsh freelance writes for the tech and education communities to help bridge the gap in knowledge between both topics. He is passionate about creating a safer Internet experience for all and works diligently to spread this message throughout his work.

2019-05-13T14:33:36-05:00May 16th, 2019|General, Job Search Advice, Workplace Advice|

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