The average person spends more than several hours a day on their phone or computer. That includes checking the time, scrolling through social media feeds, and playing games. And most people don’t stop to think about what they’re doing or how it might affect them in the long run. But as we’ve seen over the years, there are some pretty real consequences of giving away private information online that can end up coming back to haunt you in ways you never expected.
What is Digital Privacy?
The phrase “digital privacy” can be best explained as the safeguard of personal individuals’ data while they utilize digital technologies. Digital privacy is concerned with the fact that using digital tools to conduct personal or professional activities can create digital traces or footprints.
Digital privacy concerns are similar to those in other contexts, such as physical privacy. For example, the NSA monitors much of the communications between American citizens in order to protect them from terrorist threats. Also, when someone gets arrested for an online crime, they often face charges related to “invasion of digital privacy” among others.
The details surrounding digital privacy can be somewhat murky, especially given the fact that technology is always changing. But there are some pretty clear-cut examples of how digital privacy changes have negatively impacted society.
Social Media Privacy Concerns
One of the biggest concerns surrounding social media is its impact on children and teenagers. While many parents may allow their kids to join Facebook or Instagram, there are often no guidelines when it comes to privacy. And in the age of “sharing everything” on social media, kids may reveal too much information online without realizing how it can affect their lives or future careers.
Equally concerning is the fact that some children and teenagers create fake profiles on sites like Instagram in order to attract followers. But this can often lead to grooming and sexual advances from predators who look for such social media profiles.
As a result, experts recommend that parents research all of the apps their children use and make sure they understand the privacy settings before allowing them online. Also, it’s important to talk to your kids about what information they share and ask them to think critically about social media posts before making them.
Employer Privacy Concerns
Many people reveal a lot of information about themselves on social media without realizing how it can affect their employment or future employment opportunities. For example, what might seem like innocent pictures on Instagram with friends at the bar could experience that your boss wouldn’t approve of due to professional boundaries.
Moreover, what you post online could make a difference in the way your employer views future opportunities. In other words, if you’ve been vocal about certain political or social positions on Facebook but that isn’t your company’s culture, it may affect your chances of getting another job offer from another company as well.
In order to better protect yourself from these scenarios, experts recommend taking time to go through all of your social media accounts and completely delete any information you don’t want an employer to see before a formal interview process.
Also, be aware of how much private information you share with co-workers. This includes everything from personal photos to offline conversations about politics or religion. The more transparent you are with undefined relationships at work, the easier it is for others to take things the wrong way and cause a problem on the job.
Domain Name Owner Concerns
Those who own domain names or websites should be aware of how their information is protected. This includes everything from the contact email address to the physical address linked to a domain. Just like social media accounts, you want to make sure your registered domain name has the most secure settings possible.
What’s more, what you share on your website can affect future opportunities as well. For example, if you make a website about yourself and post your resume on it, this is technically public information.
And if your website contains personal information about you but isn’t on a secure server, how can you trust that others won’t access it? This is why it’s important to understand the risks involved with revealing too much personal information before uploading it on a site.
Website Cookie Concerns
Most websites track their visitors through a process called “cookie.” This is a tracking utility that allows webmasters to see how people use their sites and offers them the ability to display targeted ads based on user information.
While this information can be useful, it can also have negative effects as well if you don’t know what websites are doing with your data or how they’re using it. For example, do you know how to delete cookies on your computer? Or what types of information they keep and how that could affect you over time?
Some experts recommend reviewing the privacy policies associated with websites before making an account or sending any private information. But even if you don’t do this, always make sure you close out of your browser before going to another site. This way, it hides the session ID and prevents others from being able to see what you have been up to while visiting a particular website.
Tips to Limit Digital Footprint
If you want to be sure that your digital footprint stays as small as possible then follow these tips for maintaining privacy with various apps and devices.
Social media is one of the biggest threats to digital privacy because it encourages people to share everything about their lives with the public. And while this might seem like a fun idea, in theory, it can quickly turn dangerous when you consider all of the ways your information can be used against you.
For example, if an employer does certain research on you, they might not hire you if they see you attending political protests or drinking alcohol at parties in your photos.
Banking & Credit Cards
Your bank account information and credit card numbers are even more private than your social security number–and for good reason! If someone gets their hands on this sensitive data then they could easily wipe all of the money in your accounts and ruin your credit rating.
So when you’re entering this information online, make sure it’s on a secure site and not one that is easily hackable.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your privacy online is to use a password manager–especially since so many people reuse passwords for different accounts, which puts them at risk if one account gets hacked.
That’s because having the same password for multiple sites means hackers have everything they need to access everything else! But don’t just take our word for it–password managers are becoming more popular every year as more people learn about their benefits.
Apps & Operating Systems
While a lot of the threats we face every day come from third-party companies (like the ones that make social media apps or operating systems), there are some threats that can actually come from within.
That’s because sometimes developers include questionable code in their software without telling anyone, which means it could end up collecting information about you even when you don’t want it to. So if you’re worried about your privacy then take a look at each app or update it before you install it.
Whether you work for the government, a company, or any other institution, chances are they regularly monitor what you do online. And while this might seem like an invasion of privacy to some people, there are actually certain rules and regulations set in place that makes this legal–as long as they follow certain guidelines.
But for the average person, your best bet is to avoid using a company-issued computer and phone.
The continuing advancement of technology means more companies than ever before are collecting our data–and they’re doing it to make money off of us in ways we might not always notice.
And since this isn’t illegal, there’s no way to stop them from continuing to do so long as they follow all of the guidelines set by government officials. All you can do is be aware of each company’s practices and make sure you actually need to use their services before accepting an agreement.
Your Phone Number
Giving out your phone number is like signing up for direct deposit with a bank: It usually means you’ll be getting texts or phone calls from that company for years to come.
And while this might be useful in some cases, it can actually put you at risk when you consider how many people have your phone number. So if you want to keep your information safe, only give out numbers in person and never online.
One of the most common ways companies hurt their customers is by losing their password data in a hack caused by something outside of their control.
But this still happens so often because people continue to reuse passwords across multiple accounts–which means hackers don’t need anything besides your account names and passwords to access everything else!
So if you aren’t using a password manager yet, start now so all of your personal information stays safe.
Yes, email addresses–even yours! While it might not seem like a big deal to give out an address when you sign up for something, this single piece of information is often more than enough for hackers to access your online accounts and send spam emails about whatever they want from your account.