Internet Security 101: 10 Things You Should Never, Ever Post Online
Networking via social media is one of the newest and most popular ways of interacting with people around the globe. About 35 percent of adults have accounts with at least one social networking website and there are those who have multiple accounts on different platforms. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent use these sites to catch up and communicate with friends, 57 percent do so to set plans with friends, and 49% to meet new people.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and Instagram are just some of the top networking sites that connect people around the world. Sometimes we become too excited to share our thoughts, feelings, and important events. It has become a habit for us to share details about our daily lives. But when do we set a limit on what we share about our selves, our families, and friends?
In the same Pew Research Center study, about 40 percent of users have public access to their online profiles, which allows anyone to view all their information posted. The 60 percent have limited access. Sharing your personal information online can be dangerous because there are certain things that should never be announced. Here are 10 things that you should include on your “never share” list.
- Your Full Date of Birth. While it is a great feeling to be showered with lots of birthday wishes posted on your Facebook page, posting your complete date of birth on your profile can make it easier for identity thieves and online scammers to get one of the most important information about you. Your birth date might be used to steal your identity and open accounts under your name.
- Your Location. Many people may not realize that when you post a tweet or a status update, you can also reveal your current location. Sharing where you are exactly can be risky because it signals to potential thieves that you are not home. This also covers your photos and “check-ins” that have been geotagged. Geotagging reveals the location of a photo that you just posted. Your phone may record the location of the pictures without your knowledge. Make sure to check the privacy settings of your profile because that innocent post from your getaway might give the thieves an idea to rob your house because you’re not home.
- Pictures of your kids or your friend’s kids tagged with their names. Now, this topic can be very sensitive. For users who don’t restrict their profile, the photos you share on social networking sites are there for the public to see. The sad thing is there are a lot of online predators who use these sites to stalk their prey. To ensure your children’s safety, you can opt to share these photos with a selected group only like your family, trusted friends, and co-workers.
- Your complete home address. Again, you never know who might be lurking at your profile. Don’t share this information because it will make it easier for people with bad intentions to get to you. By sharing your address, you are doing identity thieves a favor by giving them the information they can use to impersonate you and take out loans and purchase items under your name.
- Your phone number. Yes, you might consider publishing this on your profile, so your friends can contact you. However, imagine if your phone number goes into the wrong hands. It is possible that your location can be tracked using a reverse lookup tool which is readily available on the Internet. If you really want your friends to know your contact number, you can contact them directly or send them a private message instead of posting it on your public profile.
- Relationship status. Posting your status in your profile can signal your stalkers, especially when you post stuff that you’re alone at home, etc. You can be mysterious, instead, and just put “It’s Complicated” or don’t include anything about your lovelife, at all.
- Private Conversations. Most social media sites have a feature where you can send personal or private messages. Personal matters should never be shared on your Facebook Timeline. The same goes for taking a screenshot of your exchange. This is part of your social networking etiquette. There’s really no official guideline for these things but you can be the best judge. If it’s something that you find uncomfortable sharing, then you shouldn’t post it on your wall.
- Social Plans or travel plans. You shouldn’t be sharing this information because this again signals to criminals that you won’t be home, giving them an opportunity to rob your house. While it can be nice and fun to share your vacation photos as they happen, you can wait until you’re back home to upload your vacation photos, instead. Also, sharing your social plans can pose some security issues. What if a jealous ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend knows that you’re out on a date and would suddenly show up and cause a scene?
- Embarrassing things that you don’t want to be shared with anyone. This is where the saying “think before you click” applies. Before you post anything, think: would I want my family, friends or co-workers to see this? If not, then don’t post it.
- Information about your job or work-related projects. Talking about work-related stuff online is not a good idea. Even if it’s just an innocent status about how frustrated you are about a project can provide information to your competitors and use it as a leverage against your company or business. Any information about your company’s plans for a project or anything at all should be kept private.
Always keep in mind that not everything that happens in your life ought to be shared online. Posting personal and confidential information can put your life, your families’ or your friends’ lives at risk. While it is fun to share about what’s going on, it is best to choose and limit what you post. Better yet, secure your privacy settings so that everything you post will be viewable only by a select number of people – but even THAT isn’t totally foolproof. We should know when to draw the line. It is better to be safe than be sorry.