Article

Anna Fox
Anna Fox 21 March 2023
Categories Social Media

Social Media Sharing: How Much Private Information Are You Making Public?

Social media is an important part of modern life, and it is a good way to keep in touch with friends and meet new people. It's also a dangerous way to share too much information, if you're not careful.

How much do you think someone can find out about you, just from a simple Google search?

Maybe it's time to do a test.

The Test

Open up an empty tab, search your name, and take a look at the top results. Is your Facebook page included? What about your Twitter account? How many clicks does it take before you find your own address online? How about your employer?

Chances are, nearly all of your important information, from your birth date to your alma mater to your current job title, can be found within one or two clicks. If your Facebook profile is relatively public, all of this personal info is very likely gathered in one place.

Sharing vs Oversharing

The trouble with modern life is that you have to walk a fine line between sharing enough online and sharing too much. If you're not active on Facebook, for example, you often miss out on event invitations and other important social notifications.

On the other hand, putting too much information on Facebook can give a stranger everything he or she needs to steal your identity, or give a stalker enough information to track you down.

Likewise, being too careless on social media has the potential to derail your career, if not your entire life. Take, for example, the popular story of Justine Sacco, a PR executive who made the mistake of tweeting a racist joke before leaving on an 11-hour flight to South Africa.

She was fired as soon as she landed in Cape Town, after her tweet had spread virally throughout the internet. Imagine what it must be like to disembark from an airplane and realize that thousands of people know your name -- and that your employer no longer needs your services.

The Fine Line of Social Networking

What does this mean for you? It means that you need to balance the careful art of creating a personable, attractive social media profile without giving away too much information or giving employers a reason to fire you.

It means you need to know how to both prevent and identify the signs of identity theft, and how to tell when your social media profiles have been hacked. Simply put, it means you need to be careful about what you put on social media, and what it says about you.

First, you need to think about what information you want to share. Take a quick glance at your social media profiles, from Facebook to Linkedin, and see what types of information are revealed.

Do you come across as a responsible adult, or a person who parties every weekend? What does it look like you truly value: your friends, your job, your hobbies, or your shoes? Can any part of your profiles be considered offensive?

If your publicly shared information doesn't reflect the person you want to present to the world, it's time to fix them.

Make sure your private information is not public. On Linkedin, for example, your email address may show up as contact information without you realizing that.

For business-related social media platforms like that one, make sure to only provide business contact details. Even if you operate or work for a small business, you can set up a business email address for free, without running into a risk of making your private email public.

Social media advertising targeting is another aspect to consider here. By social media ads that you see on your feeds, you can easily tell how much a social media network knows about you.

This is especially tricky with Facebook which has become really smart at targeting users with ads. Facebook pixel can follow you everywhere allowing the platform to know which sites you visit and what you’d like to buy. When allowing those cookies, keep that in mind.

Takeaway

Social media is an important part of modern life, and it is a good way to keep in touch with friends and meet new people. It's also a dangerous way to share too much information, if you're not careful.

The sooner you learn how to walk the fine line of social networking, the better off you -- and your social media profiles -- will be.

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