We share so many details of our daily lives online, but where should we draw the line on what we share about ourselves, our families, and our friends? There is some personal information that it is best not to share online. Here are ten personal details to avoid publishing on social networks.
Full birth date
While you may love getting loads of birthday wishes posted by your friends on your Facebook Timeline, having your birth date posted on your profile may provide scammers and identity thieves with one of the key pieces of information needed to steal your identity and open up accounts in your name.
Many people don’t realize that when they post a status update or a tweet, they may also be revealing their current location through geotagging. Giving out your location information can be risky because it tells potential thieves that you are not at home. Depending on your privacy settings, an innocent tweet from your vacation spot might be the green light criminals are waiting for to rob your house.
Pictures of children tagged with their names
This is a sensitive topic. We all want to protect our kids, but many of us post hundreds of name-tagged pictures of our children online for the world to see. The problem this presents is that you can’t be sure that only your friends can see these pictures. What if your friend has their phone stolen or logs into Facebook from the library and forgets to log out? You can’t rely on the “Friends only” setting. Assume that everything posted is going to be public and don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want the world accessing.
If you must post pictures of your children, remove any geotag information, and avoid using their real names in the picture description. Your true friends know their names—no need to label them. Same goes for tagging pictures of your friends’ kids.
Granted, it’s a long process to go back through years worth of Facebook photos. But, it is worthwhile to do so, and you can work on this a little bit at a time. Eventually you’ll have them all removed.
Again, you never know who might be looking at your profile. Don’t post where you live as you are making things easy for the bad guys. There’s a lot a criminal can do using just your address.
Personal phone number
While you may want your friends to be able to contact you, your real phone number can fall into the wrong hands though a social networking site. It’s possible that your location could be narrowed down by someone using a reverse phone number lookup tool, which are freely available on the internet.
An easy way to allow people to contact you by phone without giving them your phone number is by using a Google Voice phone number as a go-between.
Posting your relationship status could present encouragement to a potential stalker, and even let them know that you are more likely to be home alone.
Pictures with geo-tags
There’s no better road map to your current location than a geotagged picture. Your phone might be recording the location of all pictures you take without you even knowing it. You can remove geotags from your pictures, however, to keep this extra information being shared with them.
When you post your detailed vacation plans, itinerary,
geotagged vacation photos or live video, you’re all but announcing to
the world that no one is at your home and there won’t be anyone there
for a while. Even a “check-in” at a fancy restaurant reveals that you’re
home is unattended.
Vacation photos are great to share, but wait until you are safely home before uploading your those pictures or posting about your vacation online. You can disable Facebook location tracking to avoid accidentally checking in and sharing information you don’t want to.
Embarrassing things you don’t want your employer or family to see
Before you post anything online, think to yourself: Would I want my boss or family to see this? If not, don’t post it. Even if you post something and delete it, that doesn’t mean someone didn’t take a screenshot of it before you had the chance to remove it. Protect your online reputation, because more than just your friends may snoop your online presence.
Current job or work-related details
Talking about work-related tidbits on social networks is a bad idea. Sensitive details revealed seemingly innocently could be a violation of a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). Even a status update about how upset you are about missing a deadline on an important project might provide valuable information to competitors that could be leverage against your company.
If your company doesn’t have training around this topic, you can take the initiative to create a security awareness training program, earning the appreciation of coworkers, supervisors, and executives while protecting your organization.