These days social media is a big part of people’s lives. It’s great for keeping in touch with family and friends, allowing you to share your life with others.
Often it’s worth thinking twice before posting certain things of yourself online. That’s because what you post online is out there forever and can be used against you.
You might have a few strangers on your Facebook friend list. Perhaps most of your Twitter and LinkedIn followers are connected to your professional circles but you’ve never met them before.
Who knows who is looking at your social media networks. Even if you restrict social media privacy settings, anyone whom you trust could screenshot and share your content elsewhere.
As a blogger, I’m careful of what I say on this blog. The topics I write about are sensitive and it’s easy to rub others the wrong way. I also like my personal life to remain personal.
What you share online can harm your privacy, security and reputation. Keeping in mind what you share online may never be hidden again, here are eight things you shouldn’t post on your social media platforms.
1. Where you work
When you talk about your job online, anyone can potentially look up where you work. They might then pay you an unwelcome visit at work. That anyone could be someone who has a vendetta against you or your beliefs which you shared on social media.
That said, some employers will insist on sharing your details on their website, believing it’s a good way to network. For some lifestyle and travel bloggers who blog for a living, sharing personal anecdotes is an integral part of their blog’s brand.
On this blog and my private social media accounts, I don’t mention where I work or the industry I’m working in. Though I don’t think people who send me emails accusing me of being a white worshipper or asking to hit me up will actually hunt me down, you just never know.
2. Real time location
When you share real time location through Facebook check-ins, GPS photo tagging or live Instagram streams, there’s every chance someone can track your whereabouts and where you live.
Geotagging or attaching exact location identification metadata to social media posts is a subtle way of shouting ‘I am here right now’, compromising your privacy and personal security.
While location tagging has helped nabbed criminals in India, it can make it easy for others to follow you for the wrong reasons. For the same reasons I don’t talk about my day job online, I don’t post online location updates too.
3. Personal details
It’s best to keep personal information such as credit card details, passwords, residential addresses and phone numbers private to avoid identity theft. Cyber-criminals commonly use these details to impersonate you or get closer to your family and friends.
There’s also no guarantee your details will be secure on social media networks. For instance, an estimated 87 million Facebook users had their information potentially leaked in a data and privacy breach incident.
When there’s a professional need to share your contact details online, share them with discretion. A journalist or freelance photographer might put up work-related contact details online for others to reach them. List an email address along the lines of monkeyhello(at)mrwobbles.com to avoid web-crawling-spam-sending robots.
4. An entire portfolio of works
The bigger your online portfolio, the more confusing it might be for others to get a feel of your craft.
A selective portfolio often helps bloggers, writers and freelancers create a niche and find their audience. If someone is really interested in your work, they’ll make genuine contact to find out more about what you do.
When you share your art and work online, chances are someone will blatantly copy it without permission or attributed credit. Perhaps install disabling right-click-copy-paste plugins to minimise content theft.
Some of what I’ve blogged about has been copy-pasted on websites without my permission. It really is too bad, too sad as not everyone understands copyright laws – some downright ignorant as wekk. I no longer put up full-resolution photos and include watermarks over resized versions.
Getting involved in gossip and slandering others online potentially leads to defamation, reputation damage and legal proceedings. Drama makes everyone look bad. In 2017 a beauty blogger was sued for shaming her wedding photographer online who charged additional fees.
If you can’t agree, agree to disagree and state your opinion in a level-headed manner. Or not at all.
6. Friends and family
Not everyone likes having an online presence. Not all of your family and friends want to be appear on your Facebook feed or Twitter timeline. That should be respected if you want their respect and trust.
When you share someone’s deepest secrets online, others might see them in an unfavourable light. You put their reputation at risk.
Personal experiences are often open to interpretation and can be so easily twisted into different perceptions than intended. You might also lose the trust of that someone who shared their deepest stories with you.
8. Romantic relationships
There are arguments for and against sharing romantic relationships online. Research has found couples who express their love for each other online tend to be content together in the long run.
However other research suggests couples who post about their love lives online might be more insecure and unhappy about their relationship. Notably each relationship is different.
Perhaps refrain from sharing all of your relationships online. Few relationships in your life will be really, really special. Sometimes special things are best enjoyed in solitude without others looking in.
I’ve never understood how some share photos and videos of their partners and children so freely online, including engagements, weddings, births and vacations. Perhaps they want to share their happiness with the world.
To me, having that special person is just too special to share on a public blog and my private social media accounts. So no comment from me about my past and present relationship statuses anywhere online.
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Everyone uses social media differently for different reasons. Arguably certain generations share more of their lives online, especially millennials.
According to the 2016 Census, there are around 1.7 million Facebook users between 16-39 years old in Australia. A study found young Australians discover their identities through shared online interactions. Another study found people use Facebook to express their true selves and feel a sense of belonging.
Millennials are also branding themselves as social influencers, finding new careers by sharing their lives and whereabouts online alongside promoting products – and getting paid for it all.
Honestly I don’t like using social media very much and have gone days without going on Facebook and Twitter. There are also days where I don’t want to blog and instead eat all the snacks I want.
When I feel like it, what I will blog about are the topics of cultural nuances and cultural perspectives sans much personal anecdotes. I might also share and Tweet about other blogs and bloggers if there’s a mutual respect for each other’s works.
Drawing a line between my online persona and personal life, and keeping each separate, is what I choose to do. So be it.
It’s easy to share anything and everything about yourself online. But when you share selectively and share with intent, what you share online often is meaningful.
How much do you share on social media?