In our technology driven world, privacy is getting harder and harder to achieve every day. Once something is posted on the internet, it can never be rescinded, even if it is deleted. Most teenagers (and many adults!) don’t understand the severity of this and the potential damage it could cause. If you post something inappropriate online, it is not only temporarily embarrassing, but it could potentially haunt you for the rest of your life, preventing you from a getting job. Your internet personality is an extension of yourself and it could damage your relationships and future. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself before posting, “Would I show or tell this to the entire world, including cyber criminals?” If the answer is “No”, you shouldn’t be posting it. Regardless of how “locked down” your social media profile is, even the strictest of privacy settings can’t stop a “friend” from taking a screen shot of your content and posting on the public internet.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 things you should avoid posting on social media:
1. Never post personal financial information such as credit and debit card numbers, bank statements and pay checks on social media.
This one seems like a “no-brainer”, but the college freshman who just got approved for their first credit card may not think twice about posting a selfie with it in a moment of excitement. The debt that can be racked up in your name within seconds of you posting a photo like the one below is astonishing.
2. Don’t post other personal, non-financial information on social media.
This one may not be as obvious as #1, but you shouldn’t post a picture of your driver’s license or license plate number of your car, your address, the schools/colleges you have attended and even your or your mother’s maiden name. These seem like harmless pieces of information, but when combined, these bits of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) can be enough for someone to apply for credit cards in your name or access your personal accounts by guessing your security questions. It may be tempting for a newly licensed teen driver to post a selfie with his/her new license, and it could be the clue a criminal needs to open new accounts in their names. An estimated 140,000 identity frauds are committed against minors each year.
3. Don’t post company information.
It’s pretty obvious that you shouldn’t rant about your boss or difficult customers online, but a teen who just got their first job at a fast food restaurant may not know this social media etiquette, and they could lose their job. Even something as seemingly harmless as posting about a new promotion could be crossing the line. No one needs to know your salary or your hierarchy within a company.
4. Everyone has an opinion, and it is natural to express it, but it’s probably best to discuss your religious views, political views and your other opinions about potentially controversial subjects with your close relatives and friends only.
Everyone should have the right to speak their minds freely, but religious and political views often have no place in a work environment, and things that you have posted on social media could get you fired or deter an employer from hiring you in the future.
5. You should refrain from posting your social plans and vacation details on social media.
Don’t “check-in” everywhere you go. No one needs to know where you are all of the time. Facebook allows users to create a “Private Event” and invite only specific people. You can also send e-invitations by email. If you post your plans for everyone to see, at best, a jealous ex-boyfriend or that girl that no one likes could show up to your dinner party. At worst, a thief could take advantage of you being away from your home for a week to steal your personal belongings.
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