Digital Shadows

shadowBefore the online world became populated with social media tools and web 2.0, we were more private as individuals and therefore, we protected our information and security a lot more. However, as the online world established social media platforms enabling friends and family throughout the world to communicate at no monetary cost, we voluntarily handed over our information. By doing so, we were able to do things like: chat, share photos, express our opinions and  play games together online. All these social media benefits were easy to use, and saved us the costs associated with international calls etc.

We received so many benefits using these online tools, that providing our personal information to online users, companies and platform hosts has become worth it. As situations change, and people start looking for a job, enter new relationships etc., we’ve noticed that some information available online can not be removed very easily; reason being, you may delete it on your site but the content could’ve been shared to other people or used by organizations who have paid the platform hosts for this information. Thus, over time the information we post online becomes like a shadow, it always follows us.

For many individuals social media sites has made their world a lot smaller and a lot more fun. The information you post on your Facebook page, for example, enables people you hardly know to see how you’re doing, sympathize with your misfortune or wish you happy birthday etc.; all of which makes an individual feel cared for. In addition to that, organizations are now accessing your information, and providing you with tools to make your daily living “easier”. KLM Royal Dutch Airline, for example, has announced that they will be enabling passengers to choose their seatmates based on social media profiles. This step will be taken to ensure passengers have an enjoyable flight (Paur, 2012). While this sounds like a brilliant idea to some, to others its sounds incredibly creepy and dangerous; firstly they can’t figure out where the information about them is coming from and secondly, they are unable to opt out of providing the information. This makes us more vulnerable to stalkers, hackers and various other online threats.

A few things one can do to minimize the negative effects are:

  • Be cautious as to what you say or post online
  • Become familiar with the platforms privacy settings and use them according to your requirements

If you are a Facebook user, it has been announced that a new privacy setting will be made available, below is the update so be sure to privatize your account (Fitzpatrick, 2012) :

  • the previously scattered privacy setting will all be in combined into a single section
  • the activity log will include more information about where your personal information and photos are spread across the Facebook social graph
  • A request removal tool will enable users to ask friends to remove photos of them from their accounts
  • “In-context notices will alert you if content you choose to hide from your Facebook Timeline might still appear in news feeds, searches and elsewhere”
  • You will no longer have the ability to remove yourself from Facebook search

Hope you enjoyed this post, and remember… becareful what digital shadow you leave behind!


Fitzpatrick, A. (n.d.). Here’s What the New Facebook Privacy Settings Will Look Like. Mashable. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from

Paur, J. (n.d.). KLM Passengers Can Facebook to ‘Meet & Seat’ | Autopia | . Retrieved December 11, 2012, from

What are Digital Shadows and Why Should the Matter?. (n.d.). myshadow. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from


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