Social media at its core, is all about sharing. It has made it possible to share your thoughts and ideas with tens of thousands of virtual strangers, at the click of a button.
Privacy is a rarity these days and we have social media to blame for that. The digitization of information and the popularity of social media may put your privacy at risk more now than ever.
A lot of social media users may be unaware that the information they share could be used for identity theft and fraud. About 92% post their real name, 82% list their date of birth and 71% show their city or town of residence on their social profiles. That really is shocking stuff.
While oversharing too much information has become a problem, a lot could be gained by being careful of what is posted on social media.
As much as everyone would like to hear what you have to say, some things are better kept to yourself. Speaking of, here are 7 of them.
- Personal conversations
On Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, people can send personal messages or post notes, images or videos to another user’s wall, feed or timeline.
They are there for all to see, while messages are between the sender and the receiver, just like with e-mail. Personal and private matters should never be shared on your wall.
You may have received emails or messages from people that you will love to share. It could be a testimonial for your business or some really good advice that you think your followers would find valuable.
Before you jump ahead and show the whole world, there is a social etiquette in place. Contact the individual and ask for their permission before you post those messages.
Under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t go around announcing a private issue to the world, and the same thing applies to the Internet. This falls under simple social networking etiquette.
There is no official handbook for this sort of thing, but use your best judgment.
If it’s not something you’d feel comfortable sharing in person or with extended family, acquaintances, work colleagues or strangers, then you shouldn’t share it on social media.
2. Offensive content
So many things can fall into this category. Whether they are jokes, images, videos, racial slurs or even curse words. Posting offensive content can seriously damage the reputation of your businesses either through litigation or a general revolt of people or sometimes both.
Therefore, you need the awareness to carefully read everything twice before you post just to be sure. In case you are not sure, leave it out.
On a side note, Be careful of sharing information that can be deceitful or even harmful. Before sharing a link, make sure you visit the page first to ensure that there is nothing wrong with the page.
If you happen to recommend a website to people that steals their private information or infects their computers with a virus, you will make some enemies pretty fast.
3. Attacking other people.
There is the tendency to want to attack people or businesses that may have hurt or harmed you in some way. I strongly advise against doing that because of two reasons.
What ever the reason could be, deciding to attack someone openly on social media will likely leave the relationship between you and the other person or business in tatters.
Secondly, shaming people in public will often work against you as you will be perceived to lack respect and decency in the eyes of your audience. This could also damage the trust your audience has in you.
4. Sharing other people’s content as your own
You really need to watch out for this one. Sharing other people’s content without the proper attribution can land you in serious trouble, often in the form of expensive legal actions.
There are proper ways to gain permission to use such content but always be wary of images, graphics or anything else that has a copyright on them. You can read this helpful guide here.
5. Speaking negatively about employees and Co-workers
While social media can seem like a place to share anything, it is not. Especially when you have specific grievances with the people you work with. It really is private information that belongs in the office.
Doing this will make you look extremely unprofessional and what do you now, it could lead to more legal action.
This goes for company information as well. You may be so excited to tell the world about your new job promotion, but if it’s news that could be advantageous to one of your company’s competitors, then it’s not something you should share.
Information regarding planned expansions or big projects and anything else that your company has not decided to share should be kept private. If you feel the need to message it out, be selective and critical and send private e-mails.
Many companies are very serious about not being included in social networking sites that they forbid employees from using sites like Facebook at work.
6. Personal Information
There is nothing wrong with sharing little pieces of information about yourself here and there. But that’s the point, keep it brief. This also includes your address and phone number because it constitutes as a security risk.
Sharing this kind of personal information? on a social networking site, can leave you open to threats of identity theft and other personal dangers like burglaries.
If you post that you’re going on vacation and you have your address posted, then everyone knows you have an empty house so be careful of that.
Identity thieves could pay a visit to your mailbox and open up a credit card in your name. Burglars will help themselves in your home of anything of value. Even just posting your phone number gives people who are? Internet savvy easy access to your address.
Keep your passwords hidden and to yourself the way it’s meant to be. You wouldn’t even share some passwords with your spouse so why share them on social media?
Another point to note is password hints. Many Websites require that you provide password hints just in case you forget your password. Things like “What’s the name of your first pet?” “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” “What was your high school mascot?” What’s the name of the first street you lived on?
Including any of these details on social media may not seem like a big deal, but it could provide dangerous individuals like an identity thief with the last piece of the puzzle they need to hack into your account. Think before you post anything that could compromise this information.
7. Financial Information
A no brainer here. It is surprising to think that people do share this information. You never want to disclose financial information to the people you know talk less of on social media.
This includes things like credit card numbers, bank account numbers or how much money you make.
This will no doubt put you in big trouble because you leave yourself open to all form of attack from identity thieves.
Some businesses do share their earnings and profits but that is industry specific and does not apply to every business. If you happen to be on of those businesses, it is best to avoid the talk all together.
You can very much select all the privacy settings you want on social networking sites, but the simple truth is, once it is posted, it has the potential to be seen by someone you don’t want seeing it.
When you share something online, it is probably right to assume that is permanent. Even if you delete it, it will still exist somewhere. There really are no take backs on the internet.
Social networking is all about sharing, so something you think is in confidence can easily be shared and then shared again, and before you know it, someone you don’t even know has access to something private.
Before you post anything, ask yourself if this is something you want on the internet forever. Do you know any other things you shouldn’t share on social media? let me know in the comments below!
Feature Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In Post Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net