Digital footprint: why is it almost impossible to disappear from the Internet?


Completely disappearing from the Internet is an extremely complicated and challenging task. As our digital life becomes almost cohesive with our daily lives, a large amount of data and digital traces are generated almost uncontrollably.

every time you do something on-linewhether it is searching Google Maps for a location, buying a new mobile or even making a comment or post on your social networks, you leave a digital footprint, a trace of yourself in the vast space of the Internet.

While for most people this is just an inevitable consequence of the comfort of life on-line and being connected, for others, for example, who are concerned about their security or end up being attacked by cybercriminals, the idea that everything you do is on the Internet is something that worries them.

“All that information that you dump has been replicated and stored on multiple servers and platforms. Even if you decide to delete the original content, copies stored elsewhere persist. This is because data is copied, backed up, and stored in multiple locations to make sure it’s available and accessible.”explains to Computer Hoy Félix Llorente García, SAP Project Manager at Integra Strategy and Technology.

The very nature of the Internet makes removing all digital traces difficult. an almost impossible task. “It seems very simple, but whatever you put out there, don’t expect it to ever be private again”explains Sandra Matz, a social media researcher and professor at Columbia Business School for CNN. “Taking something off the internet, hitting the reset button, it’s almost impossible.”

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Several factors make a complete Internet wipe difficult

As privacy experts explain, search engines store copies of web pages and content in their indexes, which can mean that even if you actively remove it, it will still appear in search results for some time.

On the other hand, the interconnection of online services also makes it difficult to completely eliminate the digital footprint, since the activities carried out on the platforms can be linked through shared information, such as email addresses or login details.

Another challenge lies in the propagation of data. Once you share information online, it is difficult to control how it is disseminated and shared. There may be copies saved on other people’s devices, screenshots taken by others, or files shared on platforms “Even if you delete the original content, these copies will still be there”adds the expert.

The metadata associated with digital files—a simple photograph—can also provide personal information and remain stored even if the content itself is deleted, revealing details such as the date, location, and information about the file’s creation or modification.


Tips to protect your digital footprint

“While it is possible to take steps to reduce online exposure and protect privacy, completely removing all digital traces is challenging due to the very nature of the Internet and the way data moves.”adds Félix Llorente García. “But you don’t need to be afraid. You can take steps to control and manage them”Add.

  • Avoid oversharing on any website, social media, or in public forums. Do not share information that can be linked to you, such as your home address, your mobile number or even your date of birth – unless it is necessary, of course.
  • When you sign up for a service on-line who need your personal information — like Twitter, Instagram, or even TikTok — use an alternate email address or a pseudonym on your profile.
  • When you go online, try to use a private browser or a VPN to prevent third-party services from tracking your activity.
  • Clear all data stored on your device regularly: clear browser history, cache, and cookies.

“Assume that everything you post can be used by anyone, and will live in perpetuity”sentence Sandra Matz. “Be aware of what you share online and evaluate if it is necessary or if it could compromise your privacy”states the expert interviewed.


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