Spring Cleaning: Digital Footprints and How to Clean Them

Moving Ahead Program Spring Digital Cleanin

Our Moving Ahead Program has over 1,500 alumni, all who are welcome to visit St. Francis House at any time and seek us for support and resource advice in perpetuity. The Alumni Resource Center bulletin board on the 4th floor hosts a new topic each month. 

It’s (almost) Spring in Boston, which means it’s time to get cleaning! Usually we think of Spring cleaning in terms of household chores, but there’s another place most people overlook that needs some attention: your Digital Footprint.

Everything you have done online- your social media accounts, your e-mails, the apps on your phone, every review you’ve ever left, any articles or newspapers your name has been in- comes together to create your Digital Footprint. If you’ve ever looked at your screen and wondered why the Ads appear to be exactly what you’re interested in, that’s your Digital Footprint giving you away. While you can’t completely remove your footprint, there are a number of ways you can control it to change your online presence.

Review the following tips for cleaning up your Digital Footprint and creating a positive online presence:

Google Yourself

Your Digital Footprint may not have a huge impact on your day to day life, but employers and schools are beginning to search their candidates to ensure you are the right fit. Give yourself a head start, and search for yourself on sites like Google or Bing.

Look through the photos- what accounts are they linked to? When you look at the search pages, are there any negative articles that come up? Keep notes on what accounts you need to look at or have forgotten about.

Fix Your Privacy Settings

An easy way to remove some of the material you see on your search is to adjust the privacy settings on accounts you use frequently. Try your best to keep Social Media private, and untag yourself from any photos that could be questionable. Hide any personal details- like your e-mail address, location or phone numbers.

If You Don’t Need It, Delete It

Sometimes we sign up for accounts we never end up using, or forget about things from our past (looking at you, MySpace!). If this sounds like something you might have, try to delete the account. If you can’t delete it, deactivate it- but make sure that you change and remove photos, and put a fake name on it (Fake Fake might work!). Deactivating is typically a temporary measure, which means your information is still stored on that site.

Request Removal

If you encounter something that you cannot remove on your own, such as a news article with your name in it, try to contact the Website Administrator and request to have it taken down- especially if it could have a negative effect on your job search! *Talk to Ashley to get more information on how to do this*

Take Control of Your Digital Presence

Cleaning up negative footprints allows you to take control of your online presence, but you don’t want to completely disappear, especially if you’re looking into school or work. You can start taking back control by changing the way you use Social Media.

Focus your efforts on showcasing your talents, experiences and interests on different platforms. This will create new, more positive search results attached to your name and can give you and your creativity some exposure!

Start and Maintain a Blog, Portfolio or Website to post your work and gain exposure to others in your field.

Create a LinkedIn Account to showcase your professional strengths. This will push down any negative search results that might be attached to your name!

Ready to get started? We will be hosting two sessions this month focused on LinkedIn:

 Thursday, March 9th: Intro to LinkedIn! (An overview of LinkedIn and how to use it)

Thursday, March 23rd: Improving Your Digital Footprint: Completing Your LinkedIn (Jump on the computer and get started! We will walk you through the set-up process, and help create a basic profile)

To RSVP for the LinkedIn Workshops, or for more information on requesting removal, contact Ashley at acilenti@stfrancishouse.org or 617-654-1257. She can also assist you with resources on starting a free web blog or online portfolio.