We are constantly warned about how careful we need to be online in order to be safe, but do the majority of us actually listen? Our digital footprints online could be the reason why you didn’t get that job you wanted… Or why your bank account is a thousand pounds down. I’ll be discussing ways to be safer online, and how an online presence can actually be used as an advantage in many ways.
Firstly, a few warnings. Despite always assuming that it “won’t happen to us”, it very easily can happen to us and very recently, 272million email and passwords were hacked from sites such as Gmail and Yahoo (Yadron, 2016). Hackers will get your information for several different reasons, all of which you would want to avoid.
So considering how much information gets hacked, what can we do to avoid this daunting process? Habert suggests that you create very complex passwords in which you should try to change your password for each social media account, rather than having a generic one for all of them. You should also use a well regarded VPN to stop hackers, do not download from any old site and do not give any information away as you can never really trust who you are talking to online (Habert, 2015).
Additionally, have you ever had an interview that went absolutely perfect and then got rejected by the company? This could be because 72% of employers do a background check (Goldberg, 2016) and they may have found on your social media accounts that you are a lot different online, in comparison to the interview (check what they look for here). To prevent this, you should make sure your accounts are private and you have no inappropriate pictures or videos on any social media platforms that could jeopardise you getting a job.
Having an online identity is not necessarily a bad thing and when treading carefully, it can really connect you with the wider world where you can have so many different online identities as you are practically able to create an identity on every web page you visit. By being online, you can connect and share interests with people around the world in which communities and genuine friendships can be made.
Wouldn’t it also be good to make some money on the side? Online identities give some people with large followings the opportunity to make money. For instance, KSI on Youtube has a net-worth of $11million, all of which is only possible with an online identity (Afzal, 2017).
Online identities allow us to portray ourselves in several different ways which could either be seen as a negative or positive. However you wish to interpret the matter is your choice but I would fully recommend you are aware of the implications an online presence can have, if you do not take the necessary precautions.