In this day and age, the average person has around 100 digital accounts registered to their name. Consider how many you have between just social networks, banking, online shopping, and email. Most of these are accounts that you use, but there are also going to be a number of one-off accounts that you may have signed up for which you have forgotten about. Keeping all these accounts active leaves you susceptible to having information taken, especially if you have re-used passwords. Each piece of your personal information online adds to your digital identity or Binary Tattoo: ‘Binary’ for the language of computers, and ‘Tattoo’ for its permanence. Everyone online has this Binary Tattoo so it is important to know what yours looks like and how to safeguard your private information.
In the spirit of spring cleaning, it’s a great time to clean up your digital presence. Here is your 3 step plan for online spring maintenance:
Step 1: List all of your online accounts. Harder than it sounds. If you can’t remember which ones you have, try typing some key words in to your email search like “welcome” or “login” or “account”.
Tip: Once you have the list, this is a good time to also make a list of your passwords for safekeeping.
Step 2: Decide if you use the account or not. You’ll probably have a list of accounts you don’t use now but may again. In some cases, like Facebook for example, you can disable an account so the information is saved but not one else on the system knows you are still there. This way you can reactivate later. Just be aware that even inactive accounts could cause information about you to continue to accumulate on those networks.
Step 3: Take action on each account. Delete those you are done with. Deactivate those you may be unsure of. For those accounts you do decide to keep, take the time to review the privacy settings. They change often and may be different than when you signed on. Instructions for deletion of just about any account can be found by searching the website/network name and the words ‘delete account’.
Caveat: There are web services that are constantly taking snapshots of online public data like Profile Pictures and account names. Just because you delete an account, or increase privacy levels, does not necessarily mean that formerly-public pictures or attachments are gone.
Stay safe online, have fun!
Cat Coode is the founder of Binary Tattoo. Her mission is to help educate people with the knowledge of how an online identity is first created and then developed; Empowering them to control how theirs evolves in the online world. With an increased awareness in digital safety, we can all enjoy the benefits of online communities while minimizing the risks. Cat is also an engineer, speaker, consultant, blogger, and, above all else, a parent. Her motivation to help others was born out of her concern for her kids and the new generations growing up in an ever-changing digital landscape. For personal online audits, free downloads, tips, and lots more information, check us out at www.BinaryTattoo.com.