We’re not talking about endless photos of your dinner, a running commentary about your gym sessions or the oversharing of how good or bad your latest relationship is going. Here we discuss things that REALLY shouldn’t be on social media or risk serious privacy ramifications.
Your social media accounts can provide a great insight into your life to share with friends, but it can also be a lens into your world for unwanted prying eyes.
Even if you think that only your friends can see your profile, you can be wrong. This is because your friends can get their own accounts compromised by a variety of scammers including identity thieves, opportunists and malware developers. And when a friend’s account gets compromised, you have a stranger with access to everything on your account that your friends can see.
Now of course social media users are going to share certain things, since after all, that is the point of social media. Things like photos, likes, comments and status updates are always going to happen and to a degree we have to accept that it is possible for people to see these things that we’d rather didn’t.
But there are plenty of things that really shouldn’t be seen by others, and they really have no place on sites like Facebook.
We assume our readers already know that credit card details, passwords and answers to ‘secret questions’ are already a pretty obvious no-no that we don’t really need to go through that with you here.
1. Your Address
There is absolutely no reason to put your home address on social media. Your friends most likely know where you live and if they don’t they can ask you – providing you want them to know.
But putting your address on, for example Facebook – and yes this includes making your house a “check-in” location with a funny name – is only going to lead to problems. For one, you may not want everyone on your Facebook list to know your address, especially people you add for the purpose of app games. Additionally as we pointed out in the introduction, if one of your friends get their account compromised, you don’t want criminals knowing where you live either, which is especially dangerous if identity thieves nab your address.
And really, you don’t get anything out of sites like Facebook having your address either. It’s about time social media websites stop letting us put some sensitive information into their websites.
2. Your Workplace
If there is one thing that an almost endless number of incidents have demonstrated as true, it’s that what we do on social media can really get us into serious trouble. So it stands to reason that we’d want to keep that potential trouble as far away from our professional lives as we can. After all, we’d really try not to get ourselves into trouble standing right outside our workplace wearing our work uniforms.
So unless you have any specific reason to include your workplace in your profile – like for example it is an account specifically to market you or your workplace – keep the workplace off social media. You don’t want people connecting your social media activity to where you work, as many people have found out to their detriment in the past. There really is little reason to have it on social media, even if you keep it friends only. The number of people getting fired because of what they do on social media is forever increasing, and it’s already a pretty big list!
3. Photos of money or valuables
It may be tempting to take a photo of that £3000 home cinema system you just decked out in your front room, but criminals are always looking for easy pickings and if they see you’re flaunting your valuables online, they could rightly assume you’re just as cavalier with your security as you are with your privacy.
Social media really isn’t really the place to flaunt your valuables, and it only takes one privacy slip up or one friend to get their account compromised for a stranger to get invaluable information on what could be waiting for them once they come visiting. Couple that with point number 1 – your home address – and you have a serious problem.
And no one likes people boasting on social media anyway, so there’s that.
4. Photos of children
This is certainly a sticky subject, and we’re not saying that you can NEVER post any photos of children EVER. We know that proud parents are always going to want to share photos with their social media contacts since its quick and easy, and they may have good friends or relatives who live far away.
But there are plenty of issues here that parents or anyone else need to be aware of.
Firstly – any photos of children should always, always have strict privacy settings applied. NEVER post photos of kids with public settings applied.
Secondly – NEVER post photos of other people’s children online without explicit consent from the respective parents, regardless of what privacy settings you apply. This is considered a pretty fundamental social media etiquette no-no, and we all have to appreciate that many parents rightly want to keep their kids photos off the Internet.
Thirdly – there are certain kids photos that really have no place online ever. This includes nude photos (like bath time photos) and embarrassing photos. We go a little further into this in this blog post which we wrote after German police advised against sharing kids photos online.
Fourthly – always look at photos of children before you upload them to make sure they don’t give away too much information about them. This includes photos that would allow someone to see where they go to school.
5. Your Date of Birth
Perhaps the most commonly ignored thing that has no place on social media is your birth date. Why? Because your date of birth is a really important detail about you, and an invaluable nugget of information about you to identity thieves.
Think about it, what is one of the most commonly asked for pieces of information you are asked for when trying to verify to someone that you are indeed you? Yes, your date of birth.
Now, your date of birth is different to your birthday. If you really want the flurry of happy birthday wishes on your wall every year, consider omitting the year and just including the date. And if you do, yes, it should be friends only.
6. Specific vacation plans
Ok so if you score a holiday to some exotic island in Spain, you may want to share it with your friends, but it is generally advised to avoid posting specific dates to when you will be away from your home. Why? Because empty houses attract opportunist criminals like moths to a flame.
Essentially, telling people you’ll be Corfu from June 2nd to June 13th is essentially advertising your empty home. Yes, that empty home that has the home address tagged as a silly check-in location. Yes that home that has a $3000 Home Cinema System in the front room.
Yes, you get it.