Protect Yourself: How to Manage Your Digital Identity

Now more than ever, our digital footprint serves as a periscope into our lives. Our passions and goals are on display for whomever takes the few seconds it takes to look. In an age where social media serves as a social resume of sorts, students are often sharing more than they’d prefer without even knowing it.

Sharing information, such as your political affiliation or religious beliefs, that used to provide insight into you as an individual, can be weaponized by others for a variety of reasons. If your employer or educational affiliation is easily accessible on your social media pages, others can use that information to make your life difficult. We’ve all overheard a story about someone who posted something negative to Facebook or Instagram and lost a job as a result. These are not urban legends. More and more people are finding out the hard way that what they share online is not private and any expectation that it is will only lead to disappointment.

Are there ways to protect your online presence without going radio silent and alienating your followers? Of course. But it’s always good to remember that anything you post in the digital age lives on forever. Information that seemed irrelevant or innocent before can find a way to show its liability. Here are a few tips you can follow to make sure what you post online doesn’t come back to bite you unexpectedly:

First, take command of how your private information is shared. For example, while federal privacy laws protect most of the information related to your academic experience, there is certain information that is designated as “directory information” that is not privileged by default.  This information, including email address, previous dates of attendance, degrees and awards received (to include honors, majors, minors and specializations), previous educational agencies or institutions attended is considered releasable. If this is concerning news to you, we are happy to share that you can request to have your personal information withheld from Ohio State’s directory. To do so, a student must designate, “I wish to withhold the release of my directory information” in their Buckeye Link.

It should be noted that if a student asks for information to be withheld, it will be withheld from a variety of sources, including: the student, friends, relatives, prospective employers, honor societies, and the news media. Each student is advised to carefully consider the consequences of a decision to withhold Directory Information. You can review instructions and frequently asked questions on the Registrar’s Privacy and Release of Student Record Information page. (

Next, there are various resources on the web that offer tips to protecting your private information online. Aura, a company that also specializes in identity theft protection, offers “12 Tips to Safeguard Your Privacy on Social Media,” which includes useful general information that can be applied to any social media account or device setting. (

Lastly, you should perform a periodic audit of your social media accounts. Does the information you’re sharing still seem relevant to you? Are there accounts that you haven’t used for a while that are still accessible? Any account that is still active is still actively representing you. Consider closing or disabling old accounts. If you don’t want to remove the content completely, most social media sites offer the opportunity to unpublish your account without removing it entirely.

For more information regarding taking an active role in your digital wellness, please visit the Student Wellness Center resources page. (