Digital Footprint

Explained by Common Craft
When using apps and websites, our actions are being tracked and saved by organizations. This means we leave digital footprints wherever we go. Part of being a digital citizen is understanding why our digital footprints matter.
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Video Transcript:

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you are a detective trying to solve a crime. You and your hound find the trail of a criminal in the woods and notice footprints. Because of your training, you can tell what direction they were headed, how fast they were going, what size shoe they wear, what kind of shoe, approximate weight and more. This is valuable information for the investigation - the criminal didn’t even know that clues were being left behind automatically.

Something similar happens on the internet. When we visit websites, search for information, leave comments, upload videos, like pages and more, we leave another kind of footprint that’s also valuable. This is your digital footprint.

To understand why your digital footprint is valuable, we have to consider how business works on the web. Organizations depend on collecting and analyzing what people do on their website. That information can help the website, make recommendations, inspire helpful features, connect people, sell products and more.

The organization may also be able to sell the information to advertisers. The bottom line is that your digital footprint is being tracked and saved because it’s valuable.

And leaving tracks is unavoidable. By simply using the web, we leave digital footprints by default. And for the most part they are harmless. However, digital footprints do come with risks.

Unlike a footprint left in the woods, our digital footprints don’t get washed away. Your digital footprint leaves tracks across the web that lasts much longer than we can remember.

That comment you left on a blog five years ago? It’s still there. This means your digital footprint is part of your online identity and doesn’t go away.

The problem is that your digital footprints could be discovered and used to make decisions when you apply for school or a job. What seemed like a funny video to share 3 years ago could seem inappropriate today - and keep you from getting a job. 

So, if digital footprints are unavoidable and saved by organizations, what can we do? First, we can choose to be respectful and responsible online. Before posting on a public website, imagine how it would look to a future employer or on the front page of a newspaper.

Second, we can take steps to protect our privacy. This means understanding how our favorite websites and services collect and use our information. Find the site’s privacy settings and choose a level that works for you.

Third, consider having more than one account or persona online. This could be a professional account and personal account. By consciously switching between accounts, you can keep private information private, but still have an online presence that can be found easily.

Our digital footprints can be both helpful and a risk. As you use the web for work school or to be social, keep in mind that your actions are being tracked and it’s your responsibility today to prevent problems in the future.


What it teaches:

Like footprints left on a trail in the woods, our digital footprints leave evidence of what we do on apps and websites. This video explains the concept of digital footprints, why they matter and how to reduce the risk of digital footprints in the future. It teaches:

  • What it means to have digital footprints
  • Why digital footprints are tracked and saved by organizations
  • What actions leave digital footprints
  • How your digital footprints could be used in the future
  • How to reduce the risks of digital footprints

Video Info:

  • Duration:  03m 22s
  • Captions Available:  YES
  • Lesson Plan:  YES
  • Category:  Technology, Net Safety
  • ISTE Standard:  Digital Citizen, Indicator 2a

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