Since it’s creation in 2004, Facebook has become an integral part of our lives. Every day, we log in to see what our friends and family members are doing. I get it. We are all curious and like to be aware of what’s going on with other people’s lives, however, there’s a downside to it. Although sharing our private information on the platform might seem like it’s not a big deal, there are things you need to be aware of. Employers, college professors, police officers, as well as insurers are now keeping an eye on their policy holders to check whether or not they exhibit any behavior that would void a contractual agreement.
At this point, you may be thinking, “Oh, I have my privacy setting to only friends & family members, so no one else can see it”. WRONG!!! Even if you play it safe, there will always be that one person in your friends list who likes to download or SHARE your private life with his/her buddies. The only way to assure that your private information stays private is to keep it out of reach of anyone and everyone. So, what exactly are the types of information that you need to keep out of Facebook?
Well, the list is long, but here we are going to pin-point 10 things that you should give second thoughts to before posting them online.
1. Information regarding your job and your employer.
I know, we all hate our jobs. It feels like a never-ending ordeal to put up with the people who make us work lives miserable. We work hard but are still in debt (story of my life), and at the end of the day, venting it out gives us some form of relief. Some choose to let it all out with their partners or parents while some decide to vent it out digitally, through Facebook.
Complaining about your job online has its disadvantages. With the economy down the drain, complaining about your work environment or colleagues may be considered as being disloyal, ungrateful and unappreciative. Before you post something on Facebook, be aware of the fact that the post could be seen by your boss or colleagues. If you are eager to put yourself among the ranks of the unemployed, however, be my guest.
2. Your vacation plans.
We often see people sharing exciting news about their holiday plans, such as going on a two-week cruise or visiting a famous tourist destination. Those people are usually not seeking attention with these posts, just allowing their friends and family members to know about their plans. After all, it is much easier to share the information all in one place where everyone is sure to see. Sadly, it’s not just the friends and family members who see this.
What people don’t realize is that they are unintentionally announcing to the world how long they will be out of town and leaving their house/apartment vacant. There has been many cases where houses and apartments have been broken into simply because of a Facebook post. Today, with the help of social media, criminals are stalking unsuspecting people and taking advantage of their public posts. We all prefer to come back home and not see our valuables stolen.
Similarly, it’s also a bad idea to publicly share information about your new purchases. While we all want our friends to know that we are achieving our goals in life (and sometimes we just simply get a little over-excited about things), keep in mind that we also don’t want to be potential targets for criminals.
3. Posts with too much personal information about yourself.
Whether you just had a fight with your significant other, discovered bad news about your health from your doctor, or became disappointed in a friend, try to limit such excessive details when sharing on social media. You might be proud of your 500+ friends on your list but there is always bound to be a few bad apples that could use such information to manipulate you or play with your emotions.
The information you share could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Keep in mind that predators are always looking for vulnerability and will always take advantage of people who are physically and mentally compromised. Apart from that, your boss or colleagues could be snooping around on your profile. If information you intend to share is something you don’t want the whole world to see, don’t post it on Facebook.
4. Photos of you drinking.
Statistics show that Facebook has more than 1.45 billion active users who visit the social network on a daily basis. With so many active profiles, it’s pretty easy these days to have your photos shared and go viral in a matter of minutes. Whether you are single or happily married with children, it’s never a good idea to share pictures of you and your friends drinking. While posting images while bar hopping last weekend might be innocent enough, as you are just wanting your friends and family to have a quick laugh, always keep in mind the possibility of images going viral across social media platforms.
Apart from that, a constant stream of photos with a drink in your hand might lead people to think that you constantly have a drink in your hand. So, if you don’t want people to misinterpret things, keep the pictures off Facebook.
5. Posts directed at people to make them jealous.
There are some things in life that are better kept to yourself. It’s not uncommon to have an argument with a co-worker or friend but sharing the details about the argument online has its consequences. Many people assume that Facebook is a safe place to complain about vindictive co-workers or friends who broke a promise to them. These kind of frustrations should never be published online, even if you don’t name that person in particular.
When you post about it, he/she may realize that the post was directed towards them, ruining your chance to mend things in the future. This may also give your other friends a reason to stop trusting you.
6. Hoax stories on Facebook.
It’s easy to misinterpret news and share it around Facebook to fit someone’s agenda. We’ve seen it in the past where people share information on Facebook from websites that claim to be reporting real news. While it’s easy to do a simple Google search and find out whether it’s true or not, many choose to share blindly without citing sources. This makes them look gullible to the people in their friends list and also adds to the senseless spreading of dishonesty. Websites like Snopes can be used to eliminate any suspicion that you may have about the validity of an article.
7. Pictures and information about your kids or your friends’ kids.
There’s nothing wrong with posting a picture of your child and their accomplishments. We’re all proud of our children and always want the world to know of their success, however, when you post an image on Facebook, always assume that the image is shared publicly (even if you have your settings as Private). The image can always be downloaded and shared with others without your awareness. If you include your friend’s children with your post, always ask for permission. Not all parents like their children’s picture being shared by others.
If you have to post a photo, make sure you eliminate any kind of geographical information. To ensure your child’s safety, never share information about their school or his/her full name.
8. Politically charged comments or religious opinions.
We all have the right to express our beliefs, whether it be politics or religion but keep in mind that we also have to respect others views, even if they are different from ours. If you are someone who is on the search of a potential employer who can provide you with the job you always dreamed of, then it’s not a good idea to post political rants or religiously-motivated opinions on Facebook.
There is no harm in sharing news or links about a specific issue to get feedback from friends and family members but be aware of the content. People always love to take things out of context and use it against you or blame you for being part of the problem. You could be sharing your opinion or view on something in the heat of the moment but think twice before you do so, because a few minutes of frustration could cost you a lifetime of friendship. Apart from losing friends, people could also misinterpret your message, only for you to be labeled as insensitive or intolerant.
If you do see someone who posts their religious or political views on a daily basis, refrain yourself from commenting on their post. Facebook activity should be kept light and friendly.
9. Details that reveal the location of your home.
You might be proud of your new interior or how you managed to save some space by re-organizing your living room. To bask in your glory, you share the image on Facebook with your friends and family. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that. The only thing you need to worry about when you share images of your home or apartment, is to not reveal the layout of the place of residence. This provides burglars with a digital blueprint.
You should also refrain from posting images of the surroundings of your house. That sunset or sunrise from your balcony may look beautiful, but at the same time, thieves can use the geographical location or reverse search engines to figure out exactly where you are located. Always be safe and discreet about what you post.
10. Your boarding pass.
With the rise in technology, digital robbery is common in our society. Every day, thousands of people are having their identity stolen. While most cases are thieves targeting innocent people, some cases occur mainly due to human error. One of the main ways your identity can be stolen is through a boarding pass. When people get excited about their holiday plans, they share a picture of their boarding pass on Facebook.
While the act looks harmless to the person sharing the image, they do not realize that a boarding pass isn’t generic and contains plenty of information that would be useful to an identity thief. According to KrebsOnSecurity :
“Two-dimensional barcodes and QR codes can hold a great deal of information, and the codes printed on airline boarding passes may allow someone to discover more about you, your future travel plans, and your frequent flyer account.”
Share safely, responsibly and respectfully.
Before sharing something on Facebook, always think twice and consider a broader audience for your posts. Avoid posting things that you might regret later in life. Make sure your posts are appropriate and if it’s something that you would only share with a few close friends in life, then it has no business in Facebook. Always keep in mind that when sharing online, the less information, the better.