What are digital footprints?
📖 digital footprint
plural noun: digital footprints
- the information about a particular person that exists on the internet as a result of their online activity.
Your digital footprint forms your online identity and reputation. Every time you accept a ‘cookie’ on a website, you’re unknowingly dropping crumbs of personal information about yourself 🍪 .
These crumbs of information are gathered and used by data brokers and advertisers to create a ‘profile’ about you… and you may be surprised to learn just how much they know: your age, gender, shopping habits, political beliefs, often even where you live.
There are 2 ways in which your digital footprint is formed:
Your active digital footprint is based around information you knowingly share online. This can range from the photo of your breakfast you’ve just posted on Instagram, to the comments you leave on your friend’s latest Facebook update. Anything you share on social media, even down to emails that you send, will form permanent trails of data.
Passive digital footprints are harder to monitor because most of the time, you don’t know it’s happening. For example, any time you click accept on that annoying ‘cookie’ popup that appears when you visit a website. By doing this you are allowing, not only that website, but all of their partners to start tracking you.
When you click “accept” cookies on the Mail Online they share your data with close to 1,000 different companies 👀 ⬇️ :
They collect information such as your IP address, what web pages you visited and how long you stayed on those pages 👀 . They then use this data to create unique ID codes with detailed profiles of each individual.
Why does this matter?
Whether you left a trail of information behind intentionally or unintentionally, your data then becomes a valuable asset for data brokers and advertisers to trade and sell. They can make a LOT of money from your data… the data broker industry alone is estimated to be worth around £150 billion 😳 .
If you’re still thinking, does this affect me? Take into consideration the information that can be gathered from the specific websites you visit and how long you spend on them. A lot of personal information related to your health, financial situation, or lifestyle can accumulate from this data and later be used to hit you with targeted ads. Research into how our data is shared has discovered that even websites about depression share data with advertisers, profiting from internet users seeking help for their mental health.
Our goal at Gener8 is centred around giving you increased ownership over your digital footprint and giving you more control. Control of the ads you see, control of your data and control of your browsing experience ✊ .