Digital Citizenship

As an increasing number of our day-to-day activities involve the use of technology, it is important to consider the implications of our digital footprints and be proactive about protecting our data privacy.

This lesson provides strategies and resources for responsible digital citizenship, protecting your data privacy, and advocating for rights in the digital sphere.

Be a Good Netizen

Assume the content you post online will remain discoverable online forever. Your social media content could be available to college admissions officers, employers, and significant others who are all using social media to find and evaluate prospects.

Before posting content online, THINK: is it True? Helpful? Illegal? Necessary? Kind?

How does your online identity reflect your personality?

How might your online activity affect you in real life?

Ways to protect your online activity

Strategies for Maintaining Data Privacy

Inform Yourself

Read Terms of Use agreements, Software License Agreements, and privacy policies for your software, devices, and apps. Know what personal information your devices and services are collecting and how it will be used.

Read the Terms of Use

Strengthen Passwords and Authentication

A general rule of thumb: the longer the password, the more secure it is. Longer passwords contain more characters, and thus require more guesses to crack:

Examples of strong passwords

This comic demonstrates how a string of four random dictionary words is actually more secure from password cracking attacks than a shorter password containing special characters (Munroe).

Additional recommendations include:

Adjust Privacy Settings

Review and set privacy settings. Look specifically for location awareness settings (GPS) on your device, data sharing settings on your apps, and tracking cookies in your browser. For example, cell phone photos are often automatically geotagged with the GPS location of where the photo was taken.

Browse Anonymously

Your web behaviors are logged, tracked, and analyzed in exchange for personalizing content like search results, product recommendations, and targeted ads. (Find out how from Don't Track Us.)

To avoid being tracked and profiled online:

  • Use alternative search engines

Search engines such as DuckDuckGo or Disconnect Search do not track search terms, click-throughs, IP address, or other personal information.

  • Connect via https:// instead of http://

https stands for 'hypertext transfer protocol secure' and will encrypt the traffic between your computer and websites. This is especially important for online banking or shopping as it protects your financial or payment information.

  • Adjust your privacy settings

Browsers like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome have settings which limit the collection of your browser history and personal data.

Chrome also offers Incognito Mode.

Alternately, you can also install browser add-ons to block tracking software.

Tor routes your Internet traffic through a global network of relays to obscure your physical location and circumvent Web censorship.

For more tech privacy tips, refer to Reset the Net's Privacy Pack and Electronic Frontier Foundation's Surveillance Self-Defense guide.

Go Offline

Have conversations that you do not want recorded in-person and make sensitive purchases with cash.

Digital Advocacy

If you are interested in taking action and getting involved here are some with organizations that work to protect the right to privacy online:

Advocate 

If you think your personal information has been misused or your privacy rights have been violated, submit a complaint to the appropriate agency, including (but not limited to):