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What is your digital footprint and the true cost of using the internet


Your digital footprint is all the stuff you leave behind as you use the Internet. Comments on social media, Skype calls, app use, browsing websites and your IP Address form part of your online history and can potentially be seen by other people, or tracked in a database.

digital footprint

So how do we leave a digital footprints? Here are a few examples:

Browsing websites & online shopping: Retailers and product review sites often leave cookies on your system which can track your movement from site-to-site, allowing targeted advertisements that can show you products you’ve been recently reading about or looking at online.

Social Media: All those Retweets, and Facebook comments leave a record.  Make sure you know what the default privacy settings are for your social media accounts, and keep an eye on them. Sites often introduce new policies and settings that increase the visibility of your data.

Mobile Phones, Tablets, or Laptops: Some websites will build a list of different devices you have used to visit those sites. While this can often be used as a way to help secure your account, it is important to understand the information being collected about your habits.

The web is listening every time you use it! It’s important that you understand what you’re leaving behind when you visit a website. There is no apparent cost to view a website, read a blog, watch a video or join a social network however we are paying indirectly. If you’re paying for the product, you are the product. If you don’t pay a subscription fee for a service that service must be funded by monetising information about you. You are trading your eyeballs for their servers, network and content is the economic bargain underlying most of the internet.

The commercial side of the internet has capitalised on the opportunities your digital footprint provides. Marketers use your digital footprint to target their products at the most appropriate audience, track users & customise content. They allow brands to observe, link & mine data.

Online services collect data about what you do. Some of it is used to directly improve your user experience like language settings and other data is built into a profile of you and that information can be sold to 3rd parties and used to decide what ads are most likely to influence you.

Advertisers want to customise ads to their audience and publishers want to track buyers & maximise commercial return. And this raises the issue of lack of anonymity and security issues. Online linkability means advertisers can link huge amounts of data and link it across multiple contexts

So do you think the internet is free? What does your digital footprint say about you?

Source: Internet Society