What is a Digital Identity?

Unless you’re living under a rock, you may have already heard the term “digital identity.” It’s a buzzword in the vlogging space. It’s something that people in the corporate world spend tons of money to build. It is something that we all have if we have any sort of online presence. 

Simply put, a “digital identity” is an extension of one’s identity. For the business world, it’s their brand’s core identity. For individuals like us, it’s an online version of ourselves. Let’s think of it like a superhero’s alter ego. Just like how Peter Parker is also Spider-Man, you have a digital identity that’s different from your real-life identity.

But here’s the thing: your digital identity is permanent. Once information about you is posted or shared online, it can potentially remain accessible and visible indefinitely. This is due to the nature of the Internet, where data can be replicated and spread quickly and is often difficult or impossible to remove completely.

Even if you delete a social media account or online profile, traces of your digital identity may still exist in other places on the Internet, such as archived web pages or backups of data. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of what you share online and take steps to manage and protect your digital identity.

Here are some practices so you can make sure your digital identity stays positive.


Think Before You Post

If you’re about to share something online, ask yourself if it’s something you’d want a future employer to see. If the answer is no, don’t post it!

  • Think of a situation like this. You’re at a party with your friends, and someone suggests taking a video of you doing something silly. You know it’s not something you’d want your future boss to see, so you decline and suggest taking a group photo instead. 

Remember that even if you delete a post or an account, it can still be saved or replicated by others. This can have long-lasting consequences, as online posts and comments can be used to form opinions and judgments about you by potential employers, colleagues, friends, and even strangers. 

Inappropriate or offensive posts can also lead to negative feedback, cyberbullying, and damage to personal or professional relationships. It’s crucial to consider the potential consequences of what you post online and to think carefully about how it may be perceived by others.


Use Privacy Settings

Most social media platforms have settings that let you control who can see your posts and information. Make sure you’re using them to keep your private information private.

  • Let’s say you’re creating a Facebook account for the first time. When it asks you to set your privacy settings, you choose “Friends Only” for all of your posts and information. By customizing your privacy settings, you can limit the visibility of your profile, posts, and other online activity to only those you trust. 

This can help protect your online privacy, prevent identity theft, and reduce the risk of cyberbullying and harassment. This privacy setting can help you manage your digital footprint or the record of your online activity that can be traced back to you.  


Be mindful of others

Just like you don’t want someone to post something embarrassing about you online, don’t do it to others. Respect their privacy and don’t share their personal information without their consent.

  • For example, your friend tells you something in confidence. You don’t share it with anyone else, online or offline. Respect people’s privacy and personal boundaries online. Ask for permission before sharing personal information or images. Avoid sharing sensitive, controversial topics, or misleading information.  


Google yourself

You might be surprised by what you find! By doing a regular search for your name, you can see what others are saying about you online. If you find something negative, you can work to have it removed or address it directly.

  • For instance, say you found an old blog post from when you were in middle school that you’re not proud of. Reach out to the blog owner and ask them to take it down, or your comment on the post explaining that you’ve grown and changed since then.

Being mindful of your digital identity is as important as taking care of your real-life reputation. Your digital identity is a reflection of who you are. Just like you want to be your best self in real life, you want to be your best self online, too.

Remember to think before you post and manage your digital identity with care.