Let’s face it. Most people who have set up social media accounts share personal information without much thought. Most sites do offer the ability to limit what information others can see (for example, only my connections may view my posts), but not everyone takes advantage of this feature. There are also numerous examples of people, especially young people, posting content that is inappropriate or could be dangerous to them.
Here are five things you should not share online:
- Sexually explicit content: Depending on what you post, criminal laws related to pornography may come into play, putting you at risk of arrest and, if convicted, being labeled forever as a sex offender. Remember that once you post something, there’s always a risk it will be shared, copied or downloaded, so that even if you delete your post, the content is still out there and might come back to haunt you.
- Personal information: Never post your Social Security number, address, or credit card information. All of these pieces of information could be used to steal your identity. You should also avoid posting vacation plans. You may be really excited about your upcoming cruise, but posting the dates you’ll be out of town could mean you come home to find your residence has been hit by thieves.
- Negative comments about a supervisor, another employee or your employer: Let’s face it—everyone has had a job or a boss they did not particularly like. But if your employer monitors social media and sees negative comments, they may look for an excuse to fire you.
- False or untrue statements: It may seem like a joke to post what you think is a “funny” story about another person, but lies can spread like wildfire on social media. You can easily hurt someone’s feelings or damage their reputation. Again, once that information is out there, you cannot always take it back. Remember, if it would make you mad if someone did this to you, don’t do it to them!
- Information about a legal issue or potential lawsuit that concerns you: If you post information (including accident photos) about a car accident you were involved in, a possible medical malpractice case, defective product, etc., that information can be used against you in any future legal proceedings. You can bet the other party’s attorney will search the Internet for any references to you or the accident. Don’t take this risk.
From a practical perspective, take advantage of privacy settings and think before you post. If you are not sure about something, don’t post it. Parents – make sure your kids and teens are protected when they are online. They need to understand the risks and long-term ramifications of social sharing.