Importance of Digital Identity

With technology taking over traditional paper resumes, having a good digital identity has never been more important. People are often judged based on their behaviors on social media, such as posts, captions, and articles that share their beliefs. As educators, we have a responsibility to radiate professional and respectful energy, which is why being cautious about digital footprint is important. If you haven’t already, take a look at my previous blog post where I talk more in depth about digital footprint. In this post, I’d like to talk about the effects of digital identity and footprint, as well as ways to prevent the negative effects of them.

As I mentioned before, as teachers, we have the responsibility and the ability to direct our students to different paths— and no parent/guardian would want to give that much responsibility to a teacher who posts/posted drunk party pictures every weekend. This might be an extreme example, but same context could apply to many situations. A more common example would be companies tracking their applicant’s social medias and digital presence to learn more about them. Applicants who post inappropriate or harmful posts are less likely to get hired than those who keep a polished digital identity. Searching and finding specific individuals become easier with our devices tracking our locations, search history, mutual friends, etc., and many times, digital identity and footprint are the first impressions of individuals.

In my EDTC 300 class, we received the task of cybersluething (click to see a wild, yet interesting example of cybersleuthing) one of our classmates. I chose to partner up with Gledi, a classmate and a good friend of mine, to see how much information we can dig up using technology. If you’d like to read his experience on cybersleuthing me, click me!

The first platform I used was Instagram. It seemed like a solid place to start since most people who is of age have an Instagram account. It was very easy to find Gledi’s account because we had 4 mutual followers, and not to mention that Gledi’s name isn’t common in Regina. His account is private so I couldn’t see any of his posts, but I could tell from his profile picture that he goes to the gym! Even though his account is private, he doesn’t have any posts so I didn’t get much out of it.

The next place I looked was Facebook. Although I’m not very active on Facebook and hence not a lot of friends on it, it was easy to find Gledi’s account. From his posts and tagged posts by others, I could figure out his birthday, the sport teams he likes, and the games he play. All his old posts from a long time ago were still up, so I could easily see his old pictures and posts. Although one post had a curse word in it, I couldn’t find anything that could possibly leave a bad impression.

The last place I searched was Google and Google images, and surprisingly, I found the most information here. On images, the picture he posted on Twitter popped up, revealing his Twitter account. The second image that popped up was his picture with an offensive caption. His Twitter was full of sports. I didn’t expect to find personal posts on Twitter because his Instagram was very private, and teenagers tend to be more active on Instagram than Twitter. The offensive image I found on Google Image may be problematic if the picture isn’t deleted, which is why digital footprint is to be cautious for. Even if you deleted your post, it could still be present somewhere else.

From this experience, I truly learned the importance of keeping a polished digital identity, especially as an educator. Small posts and texts can cause bigger problems, whether intentional or not. Here are some examples of how small mistakes can cause huge issues: “One Tweet can Ruin Your Life by Jon Ronson. Many celebrities and individuals are getting backlash from old, controversial posts, especially with “cancel culture” uprising. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t be on the digital world— we just have to cautious of what we post and say, and keep our ultra-private life away from social media.

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