COMM 2500 – Elements and Issues of Digital Media Final Paper & Reflection

This class was a very valuable class to take ahead with me in my career. The group assignments helped to build a strong group  method. The information presented throughout the course was very  valuable and very well stated. This course was easy to follow along with and work at my own pace. 

Jessie Mangum 

Professor Julie Gay   

COMM 2500 

December 6, 2018 

Your Digital Footprint 

Have you ever been scrolling though Facebook, or any other site and see an add for something you have recently been shopping for? I used to see these all the time and I thought I was just looking for a popular item, that is not the case. In this day and age everything we do on the internet is meticulously tracked and recorded then sold to the highest bidder, this information is called your digital footprint. “A digital footprint is data left behind by users on digital services. Digital footprints are created when personal data is released (usually carelessly) by a user for the purpose of sharing information about oneself by means of websites or social media.” (Hendrickson) Many websites use ads that will appear everywhere once you have visited their site just once. Your online shopping history is tracked so that companies can send you personalized ads. Schools and jobs research you using social media accounts and many use the information they found to in their decision to accept you or not. A digital footprint can be both positive and negative. A digital footprint can positively or negatively affect your schooling and career acceptance, it can either positively or negatively affect your safety on the internet and in person. These positives and negatives area fine line that is very hard to keep on the positive side. Not only your actions on the internet but your friends and family’s actions can negatively affect you. 

Starting off with how your digital foot print can positively affect your schooling and career. 75% of companies have formal policies that require their recruiters to do online research when screening candidates for a position, and 85% of US recruiters and hiring managers say positive online content does influence their hiring decisions (Gupta). It is very difficult to keep your social media as a positive digital foot print because it is not only you that posts, but your friends can post on your pages as well. “When I was applying to schools, I made sure to privatize all of my social networking accounts from the general public,” said freshman business major Michael Harnisch when interviewed by Collegiate Times. “I made sure my profile picture was ‘neutral’ too.” Colleges monitor even the slightest details, such as a screen name or a small post on social media that could imply “bad behavior.” (Hendrickson) Many people have a past that they were not particularly proud of, and that can be displayed for all the world to see on your social media. If you are worried your social media could affect a job or schools’ decision to accept you it is smart to make you accounts private so that the embarrassing things you did when you were younger do not affect you now. Having a strong and positive online presence can greatly affect the changes of you getting a job or getting accepted to a school. To keep your social media a positive footprint there are a few things you should think about before posting anything: 

“Could this impact me in the future?”  

“Could this hurt someone I know?” 

“How would I feel if I was the one receiving or reading that?” (Hendrickson) 

“It is easy for things posted online to be misread or falsely interpreted.” (Hendrickson) While you might post something you consider perfectly innocent, sometimes people may find a different meaning to a post than what was originally intended. It is also important to think about the friends you have on your social media accounts. Will your friends post inappropriate content on your social media that could cause you to lose a job opportunity?  

Now on to the negative affects of your social media on your schooling and career. “According to The Career Builder, 63% of hiring managers decide not to hire an applicant because of something they found questionable on a social networking site. This includes posts implying drinking or using drugs, poor communication skills, previous criminal behavior, or even immaturity due to an unprofessional screen name.” (Hendrickson) Even the smallest things can affect a job or schools’ decision to accept you. A post from a year ago talking about a huge party you went to could be translated to say that you drank at that party and may drink regularly even if the post says nothing about drinking. Your email and screen names could also cause a negative effect to your acceptance. Having an immature email or username could communicate that you are not mature and therefore not ready for a specific job, promotion or to start school at a university. “It bugs me when students use email addresses that they made in middle school for official communication with colleges. What college admission counselor would want to accept ‘’?” (Hendrickson) Your email address, a single social media post from years ago, or even something a friend shared to you on social media could make or break it for you. Jobs and schools are looking for responsible and respectful pupils to fill the spaces they have. People are constantly seeing friends post about things that could get them in trouble or make them look bad, Lisa Ostoikoff wrote an article about how your digital footprint can hurt you. She talked about two very recent instances where a single action on social media can hurt your reputation. “In the first instance, a business owner publicly called someone out on Facebook regarding an extremely personal issue, complete with profanity. In the second incident, a professional who works for a major energy company ‘Liked’ what could be considered an inappropriate public photo. The action showed up on the feed of everyone who followed them.” (Ostrikoff) These actions could end up being a fireable offense, especially the first one.  

Next, some of the positive affects of your digital foot print on your life, both virtually and physically. While many people hate constant ads that pop up while surfing the web, the tracking systems in place now not only help companies create you personalized ads but also personalized discounts. You have a chance to purchase something at a lower price because the company wanted to incentivize you to get it now. Everyone knows the internet can be very dangerous for children as well as grown adults. However, with all the new technology available there are now many technologies available to help keep you safe. There is a keychain that when pressed for a certain amount of time will emit a loud siren like sound and alert your friends and family that you may be in trouble complete with your GPS location. There are also many apps that you can connect to as a family and know where your family members are at all times with the location if their smart phones. These types of technologies can go a long way to keep you safe in a dangerous digital world. In our new virtual world, it is also so much easier to stay in touch with friends and family as people move away and move on with their lives. A great example in my personal life is my older brother. He moved to Florida almost 2 years ago and it is very hard for either of us to find the time or money to visit each other. He keeps in touch with our entire family through social media. He has recently started converting an old school bus into a tiny home for him and his wife to live in and travel in. He posts frequent updates to how it is progressing and what had gone into getting it ready. So even though I don’t talk to him very often I feel like I still know what is going on in his life and feel connected to him.  

Finally, the negative affects your digital footprint can have on your life, both virtually and physically. While your digital foot print can occasionally get you discount from certain stores it can also cause the prices to go up. When you are searching for flights on the internet and tracking the prices, the airline companies are tracking you also. They will raise the price of the plane tickets when they see you are interested because they know they can. The same is true for insurance companies and many other companies. “Does it matter if your browsing and shopping habits are tracked? Maybe not, if you like having ads targeted to you in a more personal manner, if you do mind having your car, home, and health insurance rated adjusted (usually to your disadvantage) depending on your internet habits.” (Webb) From a young age we were are told about the dangers of social media and of the internet. The internet has made it so much easier for predators to find and lure you in. Online gaming has become a huge concern for parents because you really have no way to tell who you are communicating with. “In April of 2017, a mother of an 8-year-old boy told the NBC affiliate in New York City that her son was “groomed” by a sexual predator on the popular Roblox game.” (Smith) I will commonly see people posting saying that they may have been hacked and not to accept friend requests from another profile with their name. Predators are using this to get in contact with your friends to lure them in or to give you an extremely negative image. Cyber bullying is also becoming much more common and troubling. In the book “Social Media: Your child’s digital Tattoo” there are 2 stories that jumped out at me. The first about a young girl who had become a victim of identity theft when another student created a fake Instagram page in her name and then populated the page with pornography of a girl performing sex acts. The girl went on to suffer through weeks of embarrassment and humiliation which were very difficult for this young child to manage. They later found out that the student who created this account was one of her best friends who had become jealous of her popularity. The second story about a boy who had taken his own life due to a fake Instagram page that was created and populated with homosexual pornography. Through the digital footprint they found out the culprit was in England, an entirely different country. No one had any idea why this boy was targeted. (Smith) These stories are just a few of the many instances of this happening all around the world. These unintended consequences are something we never saw coming.  

In Conclusion, your digital footprint is something you must be very careful about. It is bad to have a negative footprint, but it is also bad if you have no footprint at all. A digital footprint can positively or negatively affect your schooling and career acceptance, and it can either positively or negatively affect your safety on the internet and in person. It is important to think about these things from the very beginning of a social media page. The smallest things could have the largest impact on your future.  


Gupta, Priyanka. Interesting Facts on Digital Footprint and Reputation. 01 March 2017. <>. 

Hendrickson, Jeweliana. Digital Footprints: How will your posts affect your future? 22 April 2015. <>. 

Ostrikoff, Lisa. How Your Digital Footprint Can Hurt You. 05 May 2013. <>. 

Smith, Stephen J. Social Media: Your Child’s Digital Footprint. A Wired Family LLC, 2017. 

Webb, Simon. Digital Footprint: Stop Being Tracked and Profiled on the Internet. 2012.