Have you ever heard of a ‘digital footprint’? It’s the information that you leave behind when you share something online, publicly comment on something or use different websites. It’s important to understand what other people might be able to see about you online so that you can protect your privacy and reputation.

What is a digital footprint?

Your digital footprint is all the information that people can find out about you online. If you do a search of your name online you might be shocked at some of the things you can find – it could include public posts, comments on online articles and other public profiles you have set up on different websites.

Why does it matter?

People finding out too much information about you can be embarrassing and in some cases dangerous. An example of this could be that maybe you’ve posted a comment publicly that is rude, it’s possible that a future employer could find it and it could stop them from hiring you. In some situations sharing too much information publicly could also be dangerous, for example sharing information about where you live or go to school.

How can people find out things about me online?

Generally people can see the things that you’ve posted publicly online. This could include:

  • Public posts and comments on social networking sites.
  • Discussions or arguments you’ve been in on public forums.
  • Reviews you’ve posted of films or music.
  • Videos or images you are named or tagged in.

How do I stop people from seeing things about me online?

The best way to take control of your digital footprint is to check whether the post or comment you’re making is public or private. Double check your social media settings to make sure that you’re comfortable with the level of privacy there is on your posts, and have a quick read through the privacy terms and conditions on new websites you sign up to.

Other tips:

  • If you want to share a post or meme with someone, you could share it in a private message rather than tagging them in the comments section.
  • When people are taking photos at an event, check with them where they’re going to put them online and then decide if you want to be in them.
  • Ask people who are taking photos or videos with you in them to check with you before putting them online – this might seem awkward at first, but people are doing it more often!

I want to remove something that I put online, what should I do?

There are a few ways you can try and get something removed offline, this could include:

  • Change the privacy settings on your past posts or comments
    Most social media sites allow you to change your privacy settings so that your content is more private. You should also be able to go back and change the privacy settings of things that you posted in the past.

  • If you posted it, delete it
    If it’s something that you previously posted online, see if you are able to delete it yourself.
  • Ask the website that’s it’s on to take it down.
    Contact the website that the comment or post is on to take the content down. You can usually do this by visiting the help area of the website.
  • Edit what you can’t remove
    If there is something online that you’re not able to remove, see if you’re able to edit it instead.
  • If it’s bullying, abusive or sexual content that you want removed, contact Netsafe for help
    Netsafe can help if someone is bullying you or if you’ve had sexual or nude images or videos shared online. Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282, fill in a report form online, email help@netsafe.org.nz or call 0508 NETSAFE.


If you need online safety help or advice, you can contact us seven days a week. Our service is free and confidential.

  • Free text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282
  • Email help@netsafe.org.nz
  • Call us toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
  • Online report form at netsafe.org.nz/report

Our helpline is open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 5pm on weekends.