Your digital footprint is important! Do you know your online reputation?
In the age of social media and the Internet, when we need to find someone and don’t have their contact details our first step is normally always to start at Google.
From there, we may type someone’s name into Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram – we may even come across a website which has more details about the individual we are searching for.
The search itself may take less than a minute, or it may take months, even years of unravelling – pouring over historic databases such as Ancestry.com or looking at online newspaper archives.
Whoever you may be searching for, no matter how long it may or may not take you – the information you locate online about that person or their affiliations is known as their “Digital Footprint” or otherwise referred to as their “Online Reputation”.
This is the collation of everything there is about a particular person online – whether it has been uploaded themselves or published by other individuals / companies. It may be true, it may false be it may even be wildly out of date – but this all makes up their digital footprint.
If you’ve never Googled your own name then you must start now!
Worst case scenario: You could be sharing the same name as a serial killer or your ‘secrets’ from the past are the first result on Page 1 of Google!
Another ‘worse case’ scenario could even be that you rely on the Internet for business and there is nothing listed about you or your service when you type in your name/product!
Who is looking at your digital footprint:
- Your employer / potential employer
- Clients / potential clients
- New romantic Interests
- New colleagues / associates
- Investigators / Government Organisations
- Enemies / Ex-partners
- Estranged Family members / Loved Ones
How to check your Digital Footprint:
In the first instance, it is important to understand what the very first Page of Google is saying when you try to look yourself up. There is research which suggests 91% of searches do not go past Page 1 of Google when trying to locate something.
Try the following combinations in Google to learn more about what the search engine is saying about you:
NB: Include the Punctuation marks
“First Name Last Name”
“First Name” + “Last Name”
First Name Last Name + occupation
“Surname, First Name”
“First Name Last Name” + City
How do Investigators use your digital footprint?
Say for example an Agent wants to find someone. They do their normal database searches and the addresses listed on these are out of date and they know they have left those places a few months ago.
From there an Agent may do some surface level checks – They may check the Australian Business Register to check if they have updated that, maybe do a few Facebook searches, check Google for any media reports etc. But they still don’t find anything.
The next step is to conduct a deep web search.
A deep web search may identify the individual is selling goods online and lists a current contact phone number and/or address.
A deep web search may identify a previously unknown username used by the individual which identifies their online blog, website, secondary social media account.
A deep web search may identify their children’s schools and/or upcoming events they attending
A deep web search may identify a forum they are regularly engaging in.
A deep web search may identify other individuals who have a grievance against that person
A deep web search may identify current or historic criminal offending by that person which would not usually be able to be obtained legally (without the consent of that person) ie a criminal police check
A deep web search may identify other previously unlisted family members / associates
A deep web search may identify ‘leaked’ data about that individual which identifies other addresses / phone numbers / email addresses / passwords etc about them
What does your digital footprint say about you? Are there any issues?
If you have found something negative, or you don’t want to be connected to your own digital footprint perhaps it’s time you had a discussion about your situation with an expert.