Explaining the digital footprint

I have been talking to a number of colleagues lately about digital footprint in the context of social networking sites and wider web as i am concerned about a number of things.

As a council we are piloting an approach with young people where we engage and consult with them formally using social networking sites. This is also linked to an internal review of our Internet usage policies in the context of social networking and other communications based websites. I am pleased to say that our view internally is not to ban but to provide effective and robust policies to protect staff. it will also be supported by an ongoing communications plan about understanding your digital footprint.

But the digital footprint in these arena’s is very different to what my “web publishers” are used to and these are people who “understand” the web!!

But why would people care about this?

If like me you google yourself and i have done this a few times, to check that i can find the blog and other references to my namesakes, you might be happy that you can be found. After all it is a big world and if google can find me then i must be doing something. If i have no results will i “feel” disheartened or pleased that what i have done has gone un-noticed…

But what happens when someone says something they regret online, how do you retract that information, once it is “out there” in the cloud?

Will understanding the digital footprint help and protect people or will it stifle their freedom of speech for fear of repercussions?

All i feel i can do in my role is to help provide effective policies and clear communications about what is means to publish online today and what impact positive and negative it can have.

These are also the same messages I am trying to get across to the organisation as a whole as we need to be concerned by reputation damage, but we can’t stop people talking about us.

We need to listen to what they say and improve our service to ensure they have a positive experience next time. Excellent customer feedback mechanism.

For now though i need to pull together a clear and consistent explanation as to what all this is about. Any pointers or signposting welcome.

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