Who Are You Online? - Digital Footprints

Digital footprints are the records and traces we leave behind us as we use the internet. When we visit websites to get information, do social sharing, send instant messages, and email, we leave footprints of our behavior behind. This digital footprint can have both positive and negative consequences.

One side effect of digital footprints is the loss of privacy and anonymity online. As we go from site to site we leave behind evidence of what we've done, where we've been, what we've been thinking, who our friends and families are, and more. These footprints continue to build over time. (In other words, they never go away.) Our digital traces can then be linked into a larger and more complete profile and what we consider as private information is now ‘out there in some way, shape, or form. The links between digital footprints, IP addresses, phone numbers, E-commerce, and on-line activities make it possible to attach those actions to a real identity.

Digital footprints in the form of cookies, a small piece of code that identifies a user and tracks their behavior online, offers convenience by keeping you signed into a site so that you do not have to re-type your personal details. Without them, online shopping would be impossible. However, because cookies can track your behavior both within a site and across different sites, they can be used to gather a broad range of information about you including, what sites you visit and which articles or items your view. An excellent treatise on cookies can be found at aboutcookies.org. (click here)