Editors Blog

Digital Fingerprints 101

November 27, 2012
KEYWORDS social media
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What do contractors and millions of others have in common with David Petraeus? They all email. Though not considered part of the social web, email is still being used to communicate on a regular basis. These emails may seem private, but as evidenced in the CIA scandal, nothing written on a computer is ever really safe from unwanted eyes — and it may just lead the authorities to your front doorstep.

I have written countless blogs encouraging contractors to get involved, to have a voice, and to create a conversation. In light of the recent CIA scandal, however, I would like to caution them to be aware that items composed and/or transferred on a computer can cause them many problems. Emails are easily tracked and traced back to the originator as seen in Paula Broadwell’s case.

This especially includes social media. Social media caution would seem to be a no brainer, but there have been quite a few people in the last month who have been fired or fined for what they posted on Twitter or Facebook.

With this warning I bring a simple solution. Act as though you are a limited public figure. If you wouldn’t want everyone on the planet to read what you are writing, keep it to yourself. That goes for texts, tweets, FB posts, and especially emails.

Take a lesson from Petraeus and avoid ruining your career with your digital fingerprint. Of course you could always not have an extramarital affair or exchange sexy emails with your lover, but that is another blog altogether.

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