Social media can be a positive influence, but only if it is used responsibly. You may be subjected to threats, real-world assaults, and other negative effects if you share too much details or the wrong items. Here are a few things you should never share on social media.
Vaccination Records and Other Medical Information
To celebrate receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, several people are sharing photos of their “vaccine cards.” Although getting vaccinated is unquestionably beneficial, exchanging medical details over the internet is not.
Vaccine cards, in particular, can reveal a lot of personal details, including your full name (which may or may not be mentioned on your profile) and birth date. Other details, such as your address and insurance information, can be included on the card depending on where you are in the world.
This type of fraud will stick with you for years, making it difficult to obtain home or car loans, as well as apply for rental properties. It may also have an effect on your career prospects. You may be held responsible for loans and investments you never purchased in some cases.
Anything That Reveals Your Residence
Even if you know everyone you’re friends with on Facebook, never share your address. You can tell anyone where you live privately if they need to know. Unfortunately, many people unintentionally reveal this knowledge, and the majority of them are unaware of it.
Photos, in particular, can reveal a lot about where you live. It’s not a good idea to post photos of your street, the view outside your front door or a window, or photos of the front of your house. Selfies taken in your kitchen may have mail or other documents with your full address on them in the background.
It’s easy to overlook this revealing detail in the background while sharing photos from a mobile device with a small screen. To avoid doxxing yourself, a tighter crop on a picture is often all that’s needed. Disclosing your address could jeopardize your safety and expose you to abuse or stalking in the real world.
Institutions like banks and insurers frequently use your address to confirm your identity over the phone. A physical address, when combined with your full name and date of birth, can be used to execute social engineering attacks on your bank accounts, phone service, and other services.
You can’t assume that everyone you’re social media friends with has good intentions. Some accounts may fall into the wrong hands, and some people may fail to meet your expectations.
Photos and Selfies That Reveal Too Much
Any photograph taken inside your home may reveal more information than you are willing to share with your friends and followers. It could be a graduate diploma on the wall that shows your full name and credentials, or it could be something written on a whiteboard in your office.
It doesn’t have to be a trade secret or your social security number; it may simply be an awkward thing you neglected to put away. If you’re trying to avoid uploading pictures of your kids or other family members, avoid posting something with framed photos in the background.
New acquisitions and expensive belongings are also sources of concern. Consider the things you have in your house and what they mean about you. Consider where you store your valuables and if your home is a desirable destination for burglars. The key rack in your kitchen, for example, shows a would-be burglar how they could steal your car as well.
Plans for Vacations and Travel
It can be tempting to post about your trip on social media, whether you’re going out of town for the weekend or going somewhere much further for a few weeks. Unfortunately, there’s a real risk in doing so, and it’s been linked to an increasing amount of burglaries.
It’s best to save posting about your travels until after you’ve returned home. You’re effectively advertising to your followers that you’re not at home if you share updates about a trip you’re actually on. If you have a partner or children at home and they appear in your airport selfie, your followers will assume your home is empty.
This can also happen on a smaller scale—for example, if you’re trapped somewhere overnight due to road closures or weather events, blogging about your journey ahead of time allows home invaders to plan accordingly.
You can also tag the posts with physical locations on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Even if you haven’t confirmed your trip, posting about “spending the next week next to the pool” in a city, state, or country far away isn’t a good idea.
If you can’t keep it together, post updates with a small group of trusted friends in private, away from social media. When you get home, you can post a few photos to commemorate your trip without jeopardizing your home security.
Details About Your Daily Routine
The bulk of burglaries take place during the day, when the majority of people are at work. Although your job title can reveal a lot about your daily routine (especially if you work in retail or hospitality as a shift worker), revealing too much information puts you at risk of being burgled.
If you post that you’re “stuck at work until 7,” your followers will know you’ll be gone for the majority of the day. It’s also a bad idea to say in a Facebook Marketplace listing that interested buyers can call “after 7 or on weekends,” particularly if there’s a risk that someone might figure out where you live based on the photos provided with the listing.
For a variety of reasons, not everyone is comfortable sharing pictures of their children online, but disclosing that you have a child of school age living in your home often reveals details about your schedule, such as when you may be picking up or dropping off children at school.
Content That Could Get You Dismissed
It’s important to remember that anything you post on social media can come back to bite you. Accounts can be compromised and leaks can occur even if you trust your followers. It could be as simple as accidentally sharing something publicly rather than just with your friends that gets you in trouble.
You can tailor your social media messages to your target audience and only share information that you wouldn’t mind your near or distant friends learning. Even if you aren’t Facebook friends with your boss or coworkers, your followers can be aware of where you work and who you work with.
Employers may question why you were hired if you have embarrassing images from the weekend (or decades ago), so you should at least check and accept any photo tags created by others.
Negative remarks regarding an employer, as well as updates about your intention to pursue a new career, are both concerning. Photos taken at work that show your colleagues’ identities or reveal what you’re working on shouldn’t be shared, either.
Social Media Should Be Enjoyable
A lot of this advice assumes the worst about the people you’re “friends” on social media with. Most of the time, your friends are really your friends, and they will not cheat you or take out a credit card in your name.
Oversharing, on the other hand, is a digital-age phenomenon with real-world implications. That’s why you should think about how you communicate with social media and make sure you’re staying as secure as possible online.