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Mind your Step: Should you be Worried about Your Digital Footprint?

Technology connections

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, WordPress, Myspace. Yes, I have them all. Well, almost. Like most of my law student peers, I’m virtually ubiquitous. And while this may be great for my social life, I have often wondered about the repercussions of my online presence on my legal career.

Many people have had a wake up call after reading the latest news story about employees caught out by their bosses on Facebook, but it shouldn’t take something as terrifying as this for people to become insecure about their digital footprint.

Current and future employers are aware that the online you is different to the person on your CV, and despite the lectures we have received, some of us do not realise the implications of an embarrassing photo. It can mean the difference between hired or not and even fired or not.

While the idea of having the world envy your amazing summer holiday, or be in awe of your vibrant social life, you should limit what is visible. Even though your rants might seem funny or newsworthy to you, it’s probably best that they’re not shared with the world.

With all the extra time on your hands these holidays, why not spend an afternoon checking and updating your social profiles? Check those privacy settings and be sure that only your friends can view your posts and photos. The visibility option of ‘friends of friends’ may not seem that bad, but if you have 200 friends who each have 200 friends, that’s 40,000 people who may access your profile, and most Facebook users have more than 200 friends.

If you’re a hoarder of Facebook friends it may even be a good idea to curb your friend list. While the idea of having the most friends was appealing back in high school, if you don’t know the person behind the profile, it’s probably time to defriend. Remember that not everyone online is honest.

You should also go over your profiles with a fine-toothed comb. Anything that you’d rather not show your grandmother shouldn’t be on there. This includes rants about people, foul language, and posts that reveal too much. If you have a few un-flattering photos, now is the time to un-tag or delete. While I’m not comparing your current and future employers to your grandparents, it is best to err on the side of caution.

Unfortunately there’s no mass-delete option for posts on most sites, so short of deleting all your profiles, checking and updating your social media accounts could take a while. At least the (potentially cringe-worthy) journey into your social past will give you a few laughs and some time to reflect on what not to post in the future…

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