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Today, anything posted online can be copied, pasted, and shared with thousands of other people in a heartbeat. Online privacy has come to mean more than just guarding personal information; when you and your family use the internet, you are creating a digital footprint of your actions and generating your own online reputation. This is true of any online user, no matter their age. To ensure the safety and privacy of your family, it is essential that users understand what happens to their personal information and everything that they choose to post.

Here are some simple ways to reduce your online presence and digital footprint.

1. Google yourself

Start by typing your name into a search engine to see what comes up. If anything you don’t want to be public shows up, you know exactly where to start.

2. Delete unused social accounts

Inactive accounts will still show up in online searches and should be deleted.

3. Remember to log out of your social networks

When you are logged in to Facebook, Twitter or Google, they are able to track the sites you visit.

4. Adjust your privacy settings

Social accounts, especially Facebook, contain personal information that is important to protect. Have a look at these posts for information on how to adjust privacy settings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

5. Be aware of accounts linking

When you sign up for an online site and it asks to connect to your Facebook or Twitter account, you may not be aware of the access you are giving away. For instance, whenever users play games or use applications through Facebook, they are asked to give permission to access the user’s profile, which gives account information to third parties. It is in Facebook’s best interest to share as much information about its users to advertising companies so they can more accurately target their ads. Be sure to check that it isn’t asking for anything you’re uncomfortable with, for instance posting to your timeline or contacting your friends without permission.

6. Remember, publishing is permanent

When content is posted online, it is saved in online caches and it essentially impossible to delete entirely. The consequences of everything you post online needs to be considered carefully.

7. Be aware of cookies

Aside from the information you post and make public, your digital footprint is heavily impacted by what you search for and how you take in information. Facebook stores any possible information it can get to provide advertisers with information on how to best target you.

Google also tracks every search and website you click on when you are using a browser while logged in with a google account. This can be helped by remembering to log out of your account when you aren’t checking emails, or using independent search engines that don’t track your activity. It’s also a good idea to use Incognito Mode while doing shopping online. Everything you look at will be stored in your cookies and inform what ads you see.

 

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