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Digital skills

Managing your online identity

When you post or share information online, you are leaving behind a set of clues about yourself. Those who find you online will pick up some of these clues and start to form ideas about what you are like.

It's also likely that other people will post information about you online. It’s important to think about how you want to present yourself; when others look for you, they should get a rounded view of who you are.

Here are a few ideas on how you can enhance your digital profile:

Review your current online presence

Look at the range of online spaces in which you post or interact with others. Remember to think about older accounts which you may have used in the past, as well as current spaces.

Ask yourself:

  • Is the information currently online about you accurate?
  • Did you make this information available, or has someone else put it online?
  • Do the results about you reflect who you are, or just one or two things about you?
  • Is this information coming from one of your online profiles (eg Facebook, Twitter or Instagram)?

How do you want to present yourself online?

You should think about which aspects of yourself you would like to present online. Do you want to showcase your study or working achievements? Have you been involved in a volunteering project, or something creative?

LinkedIn allows you to build a professional presence online and make connections with others. Have a look at the LinkedIn section on the Student Guide to Social Media (find it under "Other Tools").

If you have several profiles that you would like to connect together, you should consider:

  • using the same username and profile picture for each
  • linking all of your profiles from one site (eg https://about.me/)
  • deciding which are free to access and which are restricted.

Consider which online profiles you are happy to be open to the world, and which should be more restricted. Remember to check your privacy settings for new services that you sign up for.

Tips for interacting with others online

Social media is great for interacting with others online. It's easy to forget, however, that your comments and activities can be passed on around the world in seconds. In some circumstances these can become controversial and have negative consequences.

Take a look at a case study to find out how one tweet can change your life.

Consider creating a personal 'code of conduct' for your online activities. Take a look at our lists below for some ideas:

I will:

  • re-read everything before I post it, to check that the language and tone I've used is appropriate for the audience that might read it
  • check my privacy settings for each of my accounts, so that I know who can see what I post on different sites
  • let my friends know privately if they've posted something that could be misinterpreted as offensive or inappropriate.

I won't:

  • post anything libellous, obscene or discriminatory
  • take part in any type of personal abuse or use aggressive language against another user, even if they post something that I find offensive
  • post anything that can be viewed openly without thinking about how it might be misinterpreted if taken out of context.