10 Things to Avoid Posting on Social Media – and Why


Social networks

Do you often use social media to post details of your life? Here’s why this habit can put your privacy and security at risk.

10 Things to Avoid Posting on Social Media – and Why

Hundreds of millions of us log into our favorite social networks every day. We make purchases, share photos and news, like posts and comments, send private messages and much more. In fact, Northern and Western Europe are estimated to have the highest social media penetration rate in the world, almost 84% of the population.

But our use of these sites is also problematic. Oversharing is a growing problem. At the very least, it may annoy your friends and family. At worst, this could lead to identity theftallow cybercriminals to recover your passwordsand potentially even put your personal property at risk of theft.

Even if you consider yourself pretty savvy when it comes to privacy, platform owners update their websites and apps often, making constant vigilance essential. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some things you might be better off not sharing on social media — and why doing so could put you, your friends, and your family’s physical and digital safety at risk.

10 things to keep to yourself

1. Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Scammers are always looking for little pieces of information about you, which they can piece together to create an identity to scam. They might use this information to apply for credit in your name or open accounts online. Or worse, they could use it to crack your passwords and/or memorable questions, in order to completely hack your account. Even something as innocuous as your pet’s name or your date of birth should be kept secret.

2. Travel plans

It might seem trivial enough to post a photo or an update saying you’re excited about the upcoming vacation. But this could mean to someone monitoring your account that your property will be left unattended during this time. It’s best to keep anything vague; certainly no dates. It’s much better to post vacation photos once you get home for the same reason.

3. Location data

As mentioned, there is a point where cybercrime and physical crime overlap. And this point comes up often on social networks. If a criminal knows that a person is going to be left home alone, or traveling through a remote area, or that their property is going to be unoccupied, you can guess what might happen next. Keep your location data secret whenever possible. Additionally, some social media platforms can automatically mark the location of posts. Sharing family events or friends’ locations may inadvertently reveal where you or they live, work, or spend their time.

4. Expensive purchases

Similar to travel plans, posting photos of expensive jewelry or a flashy new car might spark envy among your friends. But if someone is monitoring your account with darker plans in mind, it could mark you as a potential target for assault or burglary. Try to be careful in posting information about any new purchases or gifts.

5. Photos of children

Some parents love sharing photos of their children. But are your children old enough to give consent? They may not appreciate the photos of them as naked babies or drooling toddlers posted all over the internet by the time they’re old enough to tell you to stop. Not to mention the more sinister types who might scour the web for images of children. It also goes without saying that if you’re going to post images of someone else’s children, always get their consent first. You could be breaking the law by not doing so.

6. Work-related grievances

What’s worse than having an expensive piece of jewelry stolen? Maybe lose your job? This is why it is important to remain discreet about any controversial work-related events. If you want to blow off some steam, do it with a colleague or friend offline. If HR or even a disgruntled co-worker finds out you’re complaining about your workplace, co-workers, and/or boss, it could land you in trouble.

7. Financial details

Similar to the personal information example, it pays to keep your financial information secret. So, no posting of credit or debit card details. Even if the image appears too blurry or too far away to see, that could be enough to give fraudsters a chance to take it and combine it with other personal information in your account to commit identity fraud.

8. Personal information of family and friends

Information shared on social media is often permanent, and not everyone is comfortable with sharing their personal information or details of their life online. Plus, you wouldn’t want to risk your friends and family being defrauded online. So keep their personal information as you would your own: under lock and key.

9. Social Media Giveaways

Social media sites are full of sweepstakes and free gifts. These are often poorly disguised attempts to obtain users’ personal information or even spread hidden malware. Think twice before filling out online forms and sharing links to giveaways. If they seem too good to be true, they usually are.

10. Private conversations

Social media is by nature a public forum, even if your account is relatively locked. This is why it is not the ideal place to share inside information. If it’s related to your workplace, it’s even more important not to share. But even if it’s relatively trivial news about your group of friends or family, it could cause unnecessary distress and acrimony if it were made public. If it’s not your news, don’t share it.

Some tips to stay safe

So how can you avoid oversharing according to the examples above? Consider the following.

  • Be aware of what you are posting when posting: Always ask yourself (even if your profile is small) if you would be comfortable telling someone sitting next to you the same information you post online.
  • Check your friends list from time to time: This is a useful exercise for purging those you don’t recognize or would prefer not to be able to see your posts.
  • Limit who can view your friends list and posts: This will help reduce the chances that someone will use the information you share for nefarious purposes.
  • Restrict access to photos: Ideally, these should only be visible to known friends and approved family members.
  • To light up two-factor authentication (2FA) and use strong and unique passwords: This will reduce the chances that someone can hack your account, even if they manage to guess or crack your password.

Sharing with our friends, family, and contacts is what makes social media so fun and rewarding. But it is also a potential source of risk. Stay out of trouble by being thoughtful when using social media platforms.

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