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What is the fingerprint? 9 tips to clean your trail on the internet

Every comment you make on networks or on the website you visit reveals a detailed picture of who you are and what you like.

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This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Every comment posted on social media, every news article shared, and every successful online purchase leaves a mark. This data trail reveals a detailed picture of who you are and what you like. All of this data is valuable and is often monetized by "free" applications and services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. In other words, when a person browses online, they are tracked on all the pages they visit.

Here's how it works: when a user visits a website, it collects information about him or her by setting cookies on their phone, tablet or computer browser. This information includes the IP address (Internet Protocol, a unique address that identifies a device on the Internet or in a local network), the access data and anything else that they reveal or publish about themselves.

How to clean your fingerprint?

I share nine simple steps for users to know, manage and minimize their fingerprint:

1. Look for your name: Put yourself in the shoes of those who want to know more about you. Whether they're recruiters, hackers, or vengeful ex-partners, it's important that you know what they're going to find just by looking for you. Use multiple search engines as they can return different results.

2. Clean your public data: Real estate web pages and sites like whitepages.com may have more information about you than you want to be public. We talk about personal information like your phone number, your age and even your address. Contact those websites and have them remove that information.

3. Check your accounts: While searching for your name, you may come across old social media accounts, posts with outdated and insensitive jokes, or blog posts you've written that revealed too much of your personal life. Culture changes and you can evolve with it. Review everything you have posted and evaluate it with fresh eyes.

4. Archive and delete: After assessing the privacy risks and negative content of your posts, it's time to edit and delete them. Close all accounts that do not benefit your image online (both now and in the future). Remember that some content can never be completely removed. Even if you think it's private, entities like the police and hackers can expose things that you don't want public. It's best to never post negative posts in the first place.

5. Adjust privacy settings: Check your account settings in your browser and mobile applications. Minimize the exposure of your personal data by limiting what people can see. This includes your photos, posts, location, and personal information, such as your address or date of birth.

6. Clear your browser history: Even if you think that all the websites you have visited have been "safe" for your reputation, it is a good idea to clear your browsing history regularly. We can easily show you how to do it. Increased privacy on the Internet prevents history snooping and helps your browser run faster.

7. Clean up your computer Temporary files, duplicates, files you thought you might have deleted, and low-resolution photos can slow down your computer and also create a security risk. Follow these guides to clean up your Mac or get your PC in order to get it running fast again.

8. Clean your phone: The more you use your phone, the more garbage it accumulates. Old text messages, cookies, images, and browser history data take up a lot of storage space. If the data does not exist, it cannot be used against you. Plus, your phone performs better. Clean things up every few weeks. Use these guides to help you clean your iPhone or renew your Android phone .

9. Be aware of others: You can create a bad reputation online without writing a single word. Think before sharing / republishing negative content. When you republish a third party's content, their words and ideas become yours. Be especially careful with your sense of humor around sensitive topics like race, religion, and politics. When posting original photos, remember that some people have different levels of privacy online than you do. Ask permission before tagging others online, or ask your friends to tag themselves.

Remember that it is better to be proactive to be positive. Don't post anything that you don't want me to come back to and haunt you in the future. The Internet is never forgotten. In addition, keeping your data trail clean is not only about your reputation: the garbage that you allow your devices to collect puts your privacy and security on the Internet at risk.