Your Digital Trail: Can Your Online Past Haunt You?

Your digital trail can haunt you

Have you ever paused to think about what you tweet or post online and how it might affect your life in the future? if you are like most people, you hardly worry about your online activities as long as you have secured your personal information to prevent data leaking. After all, it is your personal space and you are not breaking the law, right? Wrong! The information you put out can be dredged up years later and force you to eat humble pie.

Since a large segment of the modern population uses the Internet, it is quite easy to gather enough data about a person’s career, their browsing history, hobbies, and the places they frequent by looking at their LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram posts and comments. While these social sites are likely to yield a huge chunk of personal data, there are many more websites and platforms where the ordinary Internet user leaves a digital trail.


Basically, there are two types of digital trails, also known as digital prints: active and passive. An active digital footprint is data shared and left deliberately on the Internet. These include likes, posts, comments, app uses, email, and Internet calls. A passive digital footprint is information collected by websites without the user’s knowledge.

So, how can the digital trail come back to haunt you?

Ever heard the phrase’ The Internet never forget’? Well, it is true. The Internet never forgets, therefore, an email you wrote in a fit of rage or a snide comment you made to show your dissent over an issue can be brought back years later and paraded in front of the whole world.

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And as the world gets more connected, employers are increasingly turning to the Internet to research their candidates before or after interviews. Studies show that employers often turn down candidates due to the information they gleaned online.

Zack Grossbar, author of “The One Minute Commute”, and a virtual team coach, says that hiring someone to represent your business is scary. After all, you do not want to hire a person who will embarrass you later when a newspaper pulls out dirt from their past and associates them with your company.

In 2018, Toby Young a journalist, and pioneer of free schools, had to step down from his new position as a board member of the Office for Students (OfS) after tweets and articles he had written earlier about disabled people, women, and working students came back to haunt him.

 

Young is not the only person haunted by their digital footprint. Kevin Hart, an American comedian, and producer, was forced to step down as a host of the Oscars in 2018 when some of his old tweets which were deemed homophobic resurfaced.

With the knowledge that your digital trail can come back to haunt you, it is important that you treat the Internet with respect and watch your activities online, lest something you say is used against you in the future.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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