Power of a Positive Digital Footprint – A Personal Story

Adapted From http://flic.kr/p/7uNd7J

I am one that is constantly sharing with others the importance of a positive digital footprint.  This became so important to me yesterday as my Facebook account was hacked and someone acted as me and tried to get my friends to click on very inappropriate links. Now that I have had time to calm down and discuss this with a mentor of mine, I can think back and reflect upon lessons learned during this trying experience.

Lesson 1: Stay Calm.  When I saw that someone had posted sketchy links on my page (saying I “liked” the links), I did not respond in the most effective manner.  To be honest, I freaked out.  I even commented on the posts – so basically commented on my own posts which made it seem like I completely lost my mind.  All I could think about is the staff members, family, and friends that would think that I “liked” these links.  I frantically removed the items (or so I thought) and then filled my page with posts begging people to understand that my account had been hacked.  In times of stress, it is so important to realize that we cannot change what has happened but we can change how we respond.  If I could rewind, I would be more calm and work with some of the amazing people around me to develop a strategy that would turn this negative into a positive.

Lesson 2: If you have created a positive digital footprint, trust your reputation.  I have worked hard to post tweets, blogs, links, etc in a transparent (and sometimes vulnerable) manner that reveals who I am and what I stand for.  People I connect with through apps like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram know that I would never promote sites of this nature.  Looking back, it is quite comical to think that I was worried that people would think that I was posting this.  I should have trusted the fact that people knew me and had enough respect to understand what had happened.

Lesson 3: Rely on coaches and mentors.  I received a few messages today that the links were still in their feed.  People continue to look out for me and that is such a huge benefit of being part of an online community.  One message I received was from a long-time friend and social media mentor (who actually got me started on Twitter and blogging).  He wrote:

No doubt it is stressful and you are right to be concerned about perception as a result of the posts. At the same time this is your chance to shine and be stoic about it. Have a bit of humour about it. Fret on the inside, but stand tall on the outside… This is a reality of SM, you are a leader re SM in Edu. Act like it.  

It was a virtual smack upside the head to snap out of this poor me approach and use this as an opportunity.  After chatting on the phone with him, it became clear that I should have tapped into people like him from the start, someone from the outside that can offer some respectful guidance.

I can just hear some people that are on the fence of using social media saying “see, this is why I don’t get involved”.  My response would be that yes, you may miss out on a day in which someone posts something negative on your page… but you are also missing out on so many opportunities to learn and connect with old and new friends, colleagues, and family.  You are also missing out on the chance to share and steal ideas to not only make you better but also all those around you.  Most importantly you may be missing out on the opportunity to form key relationships with people that share the good times and help you through difficult ones in a way that actually make your life that much more enjoyable.

Was yesterday difficult and stressful? Absolutely.  There were, however, some moments in which I could laugh at what happened – thanks to people in my network like this:

Someone once said, “If one day you will look back and laugh, why not laugh right now?”.

I can now reflect on the day and be reminded of staying calm in times of challenge as well as the importance of having a positive digital footprint and a community of positive people around you.   #lessonlearned

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.          – Martin Luther King

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Chris Wejr

Proud father of twin girls and a son. Currently working as the Principal of Shortreed Elementary School (K-5) in Aldergove, BC, Canada. Passionate about instruction, strengths-based education and leadership, reconciliation, assessment, and human motivation.


  1. Yesterday my daughter got an email from Facebook, or at least it looked like it was from Facebook. It informed her that someone with an email (with all her name details in it!?) had been removed from using her account. She was about to click for further info, but I stopped her as I was suspicious of the email/links and recalled your tweets/alert about your hacked acct. Nothing else suspicious for us here, but yikes! I have not had anything like this happen within my family’s various sites, but I can imagine how “violated” this must feel. Thanks for the reminder to stay calm 🙂

    I often see tweets telling others, “hey, –, I think your account has been hacked”, or “hey, are those your tweets?” I have done some alerts to some when I have seen some “uncharacteristic” tweets as well. Always reassuring to see people looking out for one another in online spaces!

    • Thanks for adding, Sheila. Important to note that with any methods of communication, people will try to sell you stuff. Being wide awake to this and working to create your own digital space is more important than ever.

  2. I totally understand. I had my Twitter account hacked a few weeks ago and to say the least it was disconcerting. I, like you, was very concerned about my on-line reputation. It definitely served as a wake-up call as I am much more diligent as to what I access on-line.

    • There will always be hackers… just important to be careful what we click on and how we create our online presence. We can both use these as learning experiences to better our digital footprints. 🙂

  3. So sorry this happened to you, Chris, but thanks for sharing! I totally would have freaked too. Hard to fret on the inside only sometimes but that is great advice. 🙂 I hope this never happens to me but if something like this does happen I’ll remember your lesson.

    • I think being hacked is bound to happen to most of us at some point. The key is to respond in a positive way and not freak out like I did. 😉

  4. Great post and shows the value of being one of the estimated 1% who contribute content on the web. There are of course other value from commenting, sharing and blogging on the web such as discovering interesting individuals and building online relationships.

  5. I agree with all of it Chris and good for you for being transparent with the teachable moment. I think what impresses me most is the fact that you composed this post the day after all of your stress. You are writing through reflection and learning – not 3 months after the fact. Thanks for your honesty. (I do have to admit that I am going to use the “Wejr-ed” phrase in the coming days though) ;o)

  6. Thank you for the story. I have been working hard to develop such an online presence but it is important to keep calm if something bad does happen.

  7. Man I’m sorry this happened, Chris. I’m really sorry that I missed it, too! By the way, if someone DM’s you on Twitter to let you know that some is saying terrible things about you, don’t click the link! Cheers, PJ

    • Haha – Thanks PJ! Will keep that in mind. If I am unsure about a link through a DM, I always, just double check that it is real. Thanks for chiming in, buddy!

  8. Thanks for sharing this experience. I am going to share several of your comments with people I know who have had similar problems. One of the odd issues I’ve encountered while helping people is their feelings of being personally attacked. It’s great advice: trust that the people you know will recognize that out of character posts are not from you and will understand.

    • You bring up a great point. I DID feel it was personal at the time but now I realize that it was just someone trying to sell stuff to people. People knew right away it was not me. Now that there is more time removed since the incident, I look back and shake my head and how I overreacted. 🙂

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