What’s Your Digital Footprint?

I’m no Mark Cuban fan, and he’s clearly trying to sell his app in this video, but he does give solid advice about being in control of your digital footprint, which, in basic terms, your online “permanent record”. I’ve mentioned in a previous post how your old profiles, accounts, and journals persist long after you’ve forgotten about them, and that’s exactly the type of digital footprint that can lead to your personal information being leaked or stolen. We tend to think we’re relatively safe online. For the most part we are, but only due to the fact that there are millions of netizens online, making your information arbitrary or unappealing by way of obscurity. That’s no reason to be careless.

While our governments and systems aren’t as dystopian as Cuban suggests (at least not yet), you can seize control of your digital footprint. Potential employers and other interested parties will be looking for your online, especially on social media. Armed with this knowledge, you can shape the way people view you by being mindful of what you post, when you post, and where you post on social media sites. Remember the old mantra about making a first impression? Your digital footprint is your first impression for everyone who cares enough to look for you; it is up to you to put your best foot forward. While you’re not around, your online profiles are your stand-ins. Here are a few things to be mindful of:

1. Usernames: Pick something appropriate. If you want your online social life and work life to be separate, use different usernames.
2. Language: Use proper communication, be respectful, and don’t assume no one’s looking. Someone is always looking.

3. Privacy Settings: Yes, it’s a hassle, and yes, it takes time, but a little but of time invested goes a long way. Are there pictures you don’t want strangers looking at? Check your privacy settings!

Social Media: Bridging the Gap Between Police and Public

The number of police brutality cases seem to be at an all time high. Is it because corruption and abuse of power within the local authorities has gone up in the past two decades, or is it because social media outlets have allowed citizens to to record and report these incidents more easily? Nearly everyone with access to a smartphone and the Internet can record instants of police brutality and broadcast it, so it’s no wonder we’re hearing more and more about it on channels like Youtube and sites like Reddit. Not only does this put power in the hands of civilians, instances like the death of Eric Garner forces institutions like the NYPD to change the way they train their officers. But this begs the question: why weren’t our officers trained properly to begin with? Why does it take a huge blow to the reputation of the NYPD to inspire any change at all? Perhaps there are changes, and we’re just not hearing about them.

Local authorities and other government institutions don’t have a stellar reputation because they don’t have a stellar presence online. The Internet is where most people get their news today. It’s where they find the most interesting stories about heroics, and the problem here is that the police aren’t broadcasting their good deeds well enough. Until recently. Just take a look at his story of an NYPD officer who saved a baby’s life by performing CPR found on Gothamist. Rather than posting the usual dry and detailed press releases that clinically describe what happened on the case, they posted it on their Facebook Page, giving the officer and the department a more human face in a place where humans tend to congregate and socialize: social media sites.

In all honesty, the reports of police department misdeeds are like Yelp reviews: people post negative reviews more often because a complaint is easier to write than a compliment; we don’t see the whole story. It’s up to the police departments to take their reputations into their own hands and really work on showing off their positive deeds where people can see them. The bridge between the public and the police are wide enough. Cops are supposed to be protecting the people. Our tax dollars pay their salaries, and they should live by the mantra they have printed on the sides of their cars: CPR, which stands for Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect. These are the things civilians should expect and experience from the police, not what the police should expect or demand from the citizens. To every precinct in America: if you want respect to go both ways, show us you are on our side, and we will gladly have you on ours. Speak to us where we can hear you. Like with every institution in the world, you must adapt and adopt new forms of media and communications, or you will be left behind.