In the age of over-sharing led by the communication generation, people are using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media site as an opportunity to broadcast every detail of information, have publicly viewed arguments, and create a permanent record of TMI (too much information).
Employers are watching, clients are watching, co-workers are watching, and those with ill intent are also watching for opportunities. Self-censorship is becoming less frequent, especially for the young people who have grown up with social media as a given for expression. Cautionary tales abound, and here are four pieces of information you should resist sharing.
1. Personal Proclivities
I have friends of all ages on my Facebook and Twitter accounts and I’ve read many self revealing comments that are better left for a counseling session than a public broadcast. People have shared their affairs, use of illegal drugs, driving drunk, and overindulgences. In some cases, they add photographic proof of their exploits.
People have lost jobs, marriages, and respect by drunk tweeting. People regret what they’ve posted on Facebook once they realized they have over-shared, and there is no real way to clear the record once it’s been digested by those who have read it.
One study showed that last year 8 percent of employers fired an employee for misuse of social media. Open sharing means anyone can read it. Just because you don’t friend your boss or parent doesn’t mean you can’t cause serious damage to your important relationships and yourself.
2. Personal Information
How much personal information do you express on your posts? Do you have your birthday date, year and city you were born? According to a study done by Carnegie Mellon University, a person equipped with that information could predict most if not all of the numbers in your social security number?
Identity theft is a significant concern with the wealth of Internet Information floating about, not to mention the sharing of where you went to school, what year you graduated, what your weekend habits are like, where your “go-to” spots are, and when you are most likely to be there. A good experiment would be to take one of your Facebook friends and see what all you could learn from their online information if you were a complete stranger. Now imagine if someone were looking at your information the same way. How well would they know you?
3. Personal Plans
One of the most frequent posts I see particularly on Facebook deals with personal plans, specifically when a person is going to be away from home. Either on vacation or on a night out, people are constantly sharing when they are not home and where they can be found.
Do we really want to announce to the criminals and vandals when we are not going to be home? When Facebook and Foursquare first got started I used to announce the city I was speaking in and when I was at airports (hey, look how cool I am!) until I realized how idiotic I was in letting everyone know I wasn’t going to be home for days. I have a greater responsibility to the security of my family than I do to be thought of as cool.
4. Personal Rants
I’ve read the follow posts on Facebook:
I hate Mondays because I hate my job.
If my boss was on fire, I’d grab a bag of marshmallows.
I am so hung over I wish my boss would go to the meeting so I can get a nap.
If you want to know what hell is, ask me, I work there every day.
Ranting about your job, customers, co-workers, your spouse, your kids or your friends in social media will surely come back to haunt you. People lose jobs and won’t get hired for such posts as these. Employers are looking at social media accounts to get insight to the people they are considering hiring. It’s a public record. It’s due diligence research. It is the new way of conducting pre-employment research and executives find it effective.
Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Linked In, and YouTube are here to stay and will continue to grow in subscribers and those who over-share. Know how to properly use these social media sites so they don’t harm you in the long run.