Think Twice About Your Status Updates
Social media is so pervasive in today’s culture that even individuals who are not actively involved on the platforms still find themselves exposed to news relating to it. And regular users are not limited by generation anymore — everyone from younger kids to more elderly adults are getting on board with the popular sites. While social media definitely has its uses in business and personal scenarios, a little caution can go a long way in protecting yourself from ramifications that loom beyond that next status update. Here’s a glimpse at the things you should avoid posting on your social sites.
One of the more prevalent topics that people like to post about on Facebook and Twitter are vacation plans. After all, who doesn’t want their friends to know about that fancy European getaway they’re about to take? The problem is, not everyone who has access to your personal pages is a friend. Even if you’ve done a thorough job of making your profiles private and only accepting friends and followers who you personally know and trust, that doesn’t mean the information you share is secure. What about the friends of those friends? Those you let in on your plans have the potential to pass it on to their own networks, oftentimes inadvertently.
An example of this? You post on Instagram that you can’t wait to head to Belize for your honeymoon. You happen to comment on an acquaintance’s photo, and she writes back about how she can’t believe you’ll be gone a month and can’t wait to see pictures. She obviously didn’t mean any harm, but now anyone within her network can see that you’ll be out of town for an extended period of time. This isn’t paranoia, it’s reality. There are regularly stories in the news about homes that have been broken into and burglarized thanks to an overly revealing status update.
Beyond letting vacation plans slip out, stop for a minute before “checking in” to the places you visit. Contrary to what you may think, everyone doesn’t have to know you’re at that cute frozen yogurt place with your best friend or heading to a movie by yourself. If any exes or people with an unhealthy interest in your life try to keep tabs on where you go and who you’re with, this is a prime way to leave yourself prey to stalking. The less you share about locations, the better.
Ways to Reach you
On a social network like LinkedIn that is used for business purposes, it would seem that your contacts are on the up and up. But don’t let your guard down simply because the site is saturated with professionals. You never know who else is on the site, and who you may have accidentally accepted as a connection. Any information you disperse through LinkedIn should be just as carefully sifted through as with any other website. Sometimes you want colleagues and new connections to be able to reach you outside of LinkedIn, so you make your phone number or email address available. Think twice before doing so. Offering any contact information makes you susceptible to identity theft. You can look to identity theft protection company Lifelock for more useful information about what and what not to post on LinkedIn.
So you’re moving and you want your network of connections to see your beautiful new apartment complex. But if the outside of the building is unmistakable, you’ve just let a bunch of people know where you live. Even if you can’t see the complex’s name and address on the side of the building, is your community’s lake visible in the corner of the picture? Little details like that can tip someone off to your exact location. Furthermore, following your apartment complex or housing association on Twitter or Facebook can make it easy for someone to deduce where you reside as well. The best rule of thumb is to zip your digital lips about your home.
Too Much Info on Kids
If you have kids, it can be tempting to share photos and personal stories with your online connections. You’re proud of your sweet little darlings, and you want the world to know. But it’s not always – and in fact, is rarely ever – in your children’s best interests to be plastered across social media sites. Unless you keep your following to a very limited number of close family and friends you know you can trust, you don’t know in whose hands the pictures of your kids will end up. And giving names and faces (and even school information) could lead a less-than-scrupulous individual to track down your precious child. Trust your intuition and be wary of who may stumble across what you put out online.
You’ve had a rough day, and you want your friends to know. Instead of calling them individually and relaying the story, you take to Twitter to rant — about the horrible things your boss did or the drinking escapades from last weekend. Oops! You forgot your tweets are public. Even if you delete a tweet, the 140-character post can live on in digital infamy. People have lost their jobs over less. If you want to call your boss a bad name or vent about how hard the job search is (when you’re currently employed), do so discretely and face-to-face with someone you’re sure you can trust.
Another no-no? Taking sick days to go on vacation, and then post pictures from your trip. Even if you’re not friends with your boss on Facebook, you never know when a colleague who does have access to your page may slip and mention it. Live with integrity, both online and offline, and you won’t have to worry about being caught in lies.
When all is said and done, whatever you post through social media sites cannot ever be fully undone. So when you’re doubting as to whether it’s wise to post a polarizing opinion, harsh word, in-depth details about your life, or too much information, err on the side of caution. Don’t shout your plans and most intimate thoughts from the digital rooftops. Think how good you’ll feel never having to look over your shoulder, or worry about it coming back to bite you.