Some info should never be shared on places like Facebook, Twitter or even Foursquare, and despite privacy settings that you can generally alter, there are still things you should avoid sharing altogether.
On Facebook, although many users leave their profiles open, you can control everything you publish throughout its privacy settings. On Foursquare, it’s up to you whether you prefer to share your check-ins only with friends or with the whole community, and on Twitter, everything is public unless you choose private settings (typically uncommon for the platform), or unless you send a private message to someone you mutually follow.
So, what are 4 things you should never share on any of these social networks?
1. ‘A two-month holiday in Indonesia, awesome!’
When you go on vacation for weeks, choose what you want to share and how. A public tweet is perhaps not the best way to share this information with your friends. By checking the geotags of your tweets or by simply going on your Foursquare account, burglars could decide to make an impromptu visit to your home during your absence.
In the past, some sites like PleaseRobMe.com have tried to alert the public about this issue.
In the same way that someone can check if you really are sick when you take time off work, it’s also smart to avoid the beach selfie; it may not be quite as dangerous, but it could get you in trouble, or even worse, make your colleagues super jealous.
2. Beware of misleading content
If you see a video like ‘OMG Miley Cyrus out of control’ or ‘Britney Spears as you’ve never seen her before’ on someone’s wall that would otherwise never post something like this, you know there’s trouble.
These scams were discovered a long time ago but still cause problems for people. When clicked, these ‘video clips’ actually make you ‘Like’ the content (which is sometimes questionable) and then adds the ‘Like’ to your own wall or news feed. Avoid clicking weird or suspicious things you don’t think your friends would actually ‘Like’.
Also, don’t forget that recruiters don’t hesitate to examine your Facebook and Twitter profiles before even considering you for an interview. It’s not about having a completely clean Facebook –this social network is, at the end of the day, a space for expression– but it might be a good idea to filter what you ‘Like’.
3. Never talk about confidential information
To mention a contract or agreement on the internet might seem innocent enough, but if said agreement contains confidentiality clauses, it’s probably not a good idea to talk about them on social networks.
One father learned this lesson the hard way after losing $80,000 in a settlement case in which a confidentiality clause stipulated that no one other than his wife and attorneys could discuss the settlement. Unfortunately, his daughter didn’t get the memo and posted the info all over Facebook, losing the family the settlement.
4. Don’t complain about colleagues
If your line manager or your clients drive you crazy, don’t release your frustration on social networks. There are countless cases of people who were politely excused from their duties after making outrageous remarks on Facebook. It’s estimated that a significant proportion of layoffs are caused by social network misuse.
Known your privacy settings
To avoid unpleasant surprises, the simplest –and most effective– thing to do is to understand the privacy settings of these services. The goal is not to use your Facebook page or an impersonal Twitter account less, but rather to present yourself in a more favorable light.
Follow me on Twitter: @bbrassart
For more on privacy, check out our privacy comparison of popular messaging apps.