With use of social media on the rise, it’s not uncommon to see people misusing it. While spamming, cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying and identity theft are some of the misuses that often make the news, the most common misuse is people posting things they shouldn’t.
Now it’s debatable as to what’s acceptable to post to social media depending on your particular situation. You may not be identifiable or have your security settings mastered so only people close to you see what you post. But one thing to consider is that even if you have your profile locked down is that social media sites are prone to bugs and policy changes — both of which can give access to people you don’t want looking at your profile. So here are ten things to never post to Facebook.
1. How displeased you are with your employer.
Many people that work aren’t happy about it. Sure, posting how much you hate the company, your job, your boss and/or your coworkers might make you feel better. And yes, it could potentially solve your problem while creating a new one — unemployment.
2. How displeased you are with your spouse or significant other.
If you care about how your spouse or significant other feels about you, then don’t bash him or her publicly. We tend to forget the random array of friends and family that we’re connected to via Facebook until we post something that embarrasses us. If you’re trying to get a message across and this is the only way, then go for it. But just make sure you don’t post something you’ll later regret.
3. Details of any illegal activities you’ve been involved in.
Potential employers and clients (and yes, law enforcement) could be looking at your profile. So refrain from posting about smoking pot with your friends, how you break into buildings for B.A.S.E. jumping or ripping off your local gas station. If you don’t want the world to know, don’t post it.
4. Unflattering photos of yourself.
We all know how easy it is to send photos to people, so keep in mind that any photo you post on the web (even in a supposedly secure album on Facebook) can be saved locally to someone’s machine and then posted elsewhere where it may not be locked down.
5. That you’re going away.
Excited about your ten day European cruise? Looking forward to finally getting to visit Walt Disney World? Don’t post it to Facebook ahead of time unless you want people to know that your house will be empty. Yes, there have been people who have been robbed because they posted they were going away — and even some who were robbed while attending a concert. If you live in a gated community or an apartment complex with security at the entrance, you might be okay but it all depends on how much you trust your neighbors and the people who can see your posts on Facebook.
6. Details of your kids’ activities and where they will be unsupervised.
If you have kids, you’re probably very proud of them and want to tell the world. Think of your Facebook wall as the front of your house. Imagine it’s nighttime and you have one of those projectors that can project images on your house. Would you project on your house that you’re nervous about leaving your kids home alone for the first time? Would you project that your kid is walking to school alone? Just like we have sexual predators, thieves and other criminals that walk or drive by our homes, they sometimes gain access to our online profiles. They could be friends of friends or someone who has just come across your profile when looking for people in their vicinity. Whatever the case, wait until after the event to post the details.
7. Your home address and phone number.
While a simple web search can often yield this information, posting it to your profile gives anyone with access to your profile an easy way to get this. Unless you limit your friends to just people you know well, it’s better to share this information privately. Even if you’re using Facebook events to invite friends over, use “Dan’s apartment” or “Jill’s house” rather than your actual address. Given the history of hacks and security policies with Facebook, you don’t want your address to show up in the wrong place.
8. That you’ve won the lottery or made a big purchase.
Again, this gives people more information than you want them to have. Hit the lottery? Well Tommy, your second cousin is just struggling to find a way to pay for college. Bought a new BMW? Well maybe you might be interested in helping your niece Sally with her new business.
9. That you’re going somewhere when you’ve told people you’d be elsewhere.
This is a common mistake that people make. “No, I can’t make your cocktail party on Friday night because I’m working late.” Then when Friday night happens, you post a check-in “at my favorite bar with my best friends in the world.” If you’re lying about having plans (which I don’t recommend you do in the first place), then at the very least stay off of Facebook during that time period and don’t post updates and photos of what you were really doing.
10. Anything hateful that could damage your reputation.
This goes without saying. Depending on your age, you may remember a time when discriminatory behavior that’s not tolerated today was the norm. Today people are sensitive about everything, so don’t use hateful words towards a group or even a particular person. You’re better off criticizing the behavior of the person or people rather than making a general statement.
Bonus tip: Death threats against a world leader.
Here in the states, Presidents Bush and Obama have received a fair amount of death threats via social media. Not friends on Facebook with a secret service agent? They have ways to find out. If you’re unhappy with the leader of your country and feel the need to post, try to criticize the policies and the decisions, not the person. If you can’t resist name calling, then that’s your call. But whatever you do, don’t make threats about anyone with any sort of power. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they’ll find out. Not convinced? Look at what happened recently to a 7th grader.
Facebook is an excellent tool for staying in touch with friends and family, but when not used correctly it can cause you unneeded stress. So just think before you post and use these tips as guidelines. Not all of these tips will apply to you and you can probably think of many more, so please feel free to leave your tips in the comments section.