The Wildcat Tribune

DVHS Students Ponder Their Digital Footprint

Michael Tobin, Web Editor

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These days, before a newborn takes his first trip home from the hospital, two types of footprints will be made for him.  The first is done in the hospital nursery, where a nurse rubs dark ink on the tyke’s foot and stamps it on a piece of paper.  The second is made when one of the family members takes the baby’s first pictures and posts them on the internet, creating what is then on called the baby’s “digital footprint”.    Digital footprint is defined by Educatorstechnology.com as “the collection of all the traces you leave in electronic environments as you use or move through them. Some is content you actively volunteer—like your Facebook profile. Other material is passive—the cookies a site stores in your browse…All this data can be aggregated to build a profile of you and your behavior.”  So every time we venture onto the internet – whether to Facebook, tweet, email, or shop – we scatter personal data about ourselves out into cyberspace and expand our digital footprint.  Our digital footprint also grows every time someone else posts something about us or tags us in a photo, for example.  Whether we like it or not, once created, our digital footprint is permanent.  This is because once we share any kind of “our data” online, it becomes someone else’s property that can be copied, broadcasted and shared with others.  Social media experts warn, “What goes on the internet, stays on the internet.”   Most companies know this and use this information to prescreen job applicants.  According to a 2012 survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 37 percent of the companies surveyed use social media to prescreen job applicants and 65 percent of that group say they use Facebook before making a hiring decision.  Most social media experts advise, “if there is any doubt, don’t post it.”  As for minimizing the role others play in tarnishing your online image, social media experts also suggest you enable the Facebook photo tagging permission so that “friends” can’t tag you without your approval.  So the DVHS Tribune wondered if DVHS students ever thought about what kind of digital footprint they are creating for themselves.  Since the Facebook page is a major component of many students’ online image, we walked around campus, randomly asking students the following two questions:   “Knowing many employers these days are looking over applicants’ Facebook pages to get a better idea of what kind of person they might be hiring, would you say that your current Facebook page – the way you have it right now — would help or hurt your chances of getting hired?”  Would you

consider cleaning it up or scrubbing it a bit before applying?”

Junior Neal Sanghvi responded, “My Facebook page would help me.  I don’t have anything bad on there.  The worst is some weird pictures.  In addition, they would see I have a social life and I’m not only doing work for school at all times,” and “Yes, I would clean it up a bit.  I’d probably erase some profanity and delete some weird pictures, but other than that, there’s nothing I would change.”

Senior Jayendra Jog said, “Mine would slightly hurt my chances, if it has any effect at all, so I would definitely clean it up.”

Junior Dominic Phillips replied, “My Facebook profile and the subject matter on it, at its core, display my personal life. In a way, I can see from an employer’s perspective that some of the objects on the profile are unprofessional. The issue is that at the same time, it’s not dedicated to showing my professional side.  Of course [I would consider cleaning it up], because your job history is something that you carry with you throughout the rest of your life. If you take on your career as a professional person …you’ll definitely get much further on in life and become closer to achieving your goal of success.”

Finally, Junior Griffin Puatu answered, “I don’t know.  My Facebook page is pretty neutral.  Odds are it would help me.  No [I don’t think I need to clean it up], but I would consider padding it up with some good resume things.”

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DVHS Students Ponder Their Digital Footprint