Saturday, March 2, 2013

Steer Clear of Oversharing in Social Media

The sharp increase in popularity and adoption of social networks and services has no doubt led to encouraging many online users to overshare information. It can’t be helped that these websites are formed under the assumption that online privacy is superfluous and that every trivial happenings of people’s lives must be shared. Be it a simple Facebook status update about a person eating at a restaurant or a tweet about one’s current thoughts of the latest news, the information people publish for everyone else to consume apparently looks safe and devoid of unwanted consequences.

Unbeknownst to many, however, is that these seemingly harmless details you divulge can be put together and potentially be exploited at your expense. If you are under the illusion that you need not be careful when using social sites, then continue reading.

Think before you post.

The urge to share something personal, scandalous secrets in particular, can be so overwhelming that you just have to tell someone about it. But instead of posting it online, make a point of sharing it with your friends in person.

Even though you attempt to leave comments or journals with an anonymous moniker, hackers can still find ways to unveil your true identity. They will even have all the more reason to reveal who you are when you post things that bring attention to yourself. For instance, there have been oh so many incidents on Facebook where unknowing teens post events – such as parties and get-togethers – for the public to see and interact with, instead of setting the event’s visibility to just concerned friends and individuals. What happens next is that many people invite themselves and crash said events, leaving the host caught unawares and the venue totally damaged.

Protect your online identity.

Many people have posted information online that are seemingly harmless to divulge but can rather lead to disaster if they ever come across a malicious cybercriminal. Here and there we receive news of how cases in identity theft have increased in recent years. Such cybercrime does not exactly require a genius to be accomplished; shared personal details may be enough. Phone numbers, home addresses, and birthdays are some of the commonly used answers for security questions that are asked before sites reset or give out the password, thereby giving anyone who knows these details access to the sites. Online banking sites are no exception.

Wired magazine writer Mat Honan is one such fellow that has gone through a similar unfortunate scenario. It was a slippery slope, a chain of hacks from one account to another that led to the obliteration of his digital life. His Google account was first compromised, then his Twitter, Amazon and Apple accounts. The result? The loss of a year’s worth of photos, important files, and more. The hackers did not stop there; they also published using Honan’s Twitter account nefarious tweets that were homophobic and racist.

Maintain your reputation.

Even though you are posting your own say about anything your mind can think of, you are still exposed to people who you are sharing information with. They are your audience, after all. Every status are put under scrutiny and judged for some signs that would probably show you in a bad light. If you pretend you are one of your audience and then read your own updates, you may realize that you can unintentionally sound pretentious and hypocritical.

Simply put, the posts aren’t about you but rather your audience. Almost everybody is at fault of not thinking twice before posting. But when you have become aware that people definitely forms a certain impression of you based on what you share, then you agree that you must protect your reputation by considering what information is suitable for social media sites to show.

Do not provoke the authorities.

Whether you like it or not, the FBI, the police, and other crime stoppers perform surveillance all over social networks. You can’t expect that you can brag that one night of drunk driving and causing mischief without attracting the attention of the police. It’s the nature of every information to be disseminated and somehow reach law enforcement.

Overshare only during the right occasions.

To be frank, there are times when embarrassing moments in your life can be mentioned to random people. Take dating and chatting with strangers in order to look for potential online buddies as examples. Introductions can often become awkward but such tensions can be easily overcome by a simple revelation of a funny, albeit humiliating, childhood experience. The act also shows that one is letting their guard down and be more open to the other.

Nonetheless there are still things that ought not to be told in casual conversations for the sake of intimacy. Boasting extramarital affair is a definite no-no, even more so when the relationship is bound to have a restriction such as between employer and employee. Your boss comes as an authoritative figure first, then a friend second. That is why no risky personal details should be blurted out lest you destroy your career.

While Facebook and other social networks ask how you are doing and encourage you to share all the good, and bad, things that happened during the day, common sense dictates you ought not to tell the world every single detail. Granted, some people have different opinions as to what constitutes oversharing or too much information (TMI), but being hesitant to share some personal information is simply for everyone’s own safety and well-being.


There are numerous reasons beyond what this list has covered. Feel free to mention them in the comments below.

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