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Information You Should Not Share About Yourself on Facebook

We often hear of the dangers and horror stories about Facebook and other social networking sites. Because of these dangers some choose not sign up for the site. However, on the other hand, many choose to use Facebook and similar sites despite these dangers. What do you need to know in order to protect yourself?

Did you know  that the social network site Facebook signed on 200 million people in one year?  You or someone you know has a profile page on Facebook.

We have heard numerous stories about the dangers of Facebook and other similar sites; because of these stories and dangers many have chosen to stay clear of social media sites.  What if you are one of the 200 million and growing members who log in to Facebook each day?

Facebook has many pros and cons.  It is a great way to stay in contact with friends and family.   It helps us to stay up to date on the latest news on who’s dating, who’s getting married, vacation pictures, and cute baby photos.  Facebook isn’t just for socializing.  It helps business owners promote their products and services.  However, there are many dangers involved with social media.  How can you protect yourself from these dangers.  What information should not be shared on Facebook?  Here is a list of what information you should not reveal about yourself on Facebook?

Full Birth Date

Sometimes, Facebook member publish their full date of birth on their profile so that when the big day comes, their friends and family can wish them a happy birthday.  However, posting your full birth date can leave you vulnerable to identity theft.  According to CBS News, a study by Carnegie Mellon showed that by sharing your birth year and or place of birth could be used to access your social security number. 

Phone Number and Email Address

It may seem like a good idea to publish your phone number on Facebook so that your friends and family can contact you.  Why is this a bad idea?  When you publish your phone number on your Facebook profile, depending on your privacy settings you be given people outside of your network access to your phone number.  If there is someone from your past you do not wish to resume contact with  like an ex girlfriend or boyfriend,  it is best not to publish this information.  Sharing this type of personal and sensitive information can open the door to criminals and stalkers. 

Some users think that it is okay to share their email address.  What’s the harm? By sharing your email address, you are revealing information  about who you are.  Also by sharing your email address with anyone leads to junk mail delivery everyday. 

Home Address

You have probably seen some of your friends sharing their home address on their profile page.  By sharing your home address, this is like giving a criminal a key to your home.  Studies show that by sharing  contact information including your home address puts your family in physical harm and identity theft.  If your friends and family need your contact information, they should ask you personally.

Vacation Plans

You’re excited about your vacation plans and you want to tell your friends about it.  Many social network users may not realize by sharing when and where they are going out of town gives criminals an open invitation to their home.  In Kathy Kistof’s “6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook” suggest posting your vacation photos after you have returned home for vacation. 

Photo and Comments

The biggest part of the social network scene is staying up to date on the latest news from friends and family through photos and comments.  What you post online can have a great effect on your reputation.  What conclusions would you make about a person who is dressed provocatively or appears to be drunk in their profile pictures or other photos?  In turn, you should ask the same question about the photos you post, “Would you be embarrassed if your friends, family members, coworkers , or even  a potential employer would see if they were able to access your profile?” 

In the book, Facebook for Parents, author  Dr. B.J. Fogg  said, “If I can see the applicant’s profile and see junky things, then I’m not impressed. Why?  Because people who work with me need excellent judgement.”  What does this mean for social media users?  If you are currently looking for employment, potential employers can search for you on social network sites such as Facebook.  If you have posted questionable and distasteful photos or comments, you may ruin your chances of getting your next job. 

We have all heard the saying, think before you speak.  This should be applied when it comes to posting comments on Facebook.  If you have a complaint or run in with your boss or professor, do not use Facebook to vent your frustrations.  Before you know it your comments can quickly get back to your boss or professor; and this may cause you to lose your job.  Also, your comments may land you into serious  trouble at your college or university.

Have you checked your privacy setting lately?   There tends to be a false sense of security that only our friends can see our profiles.  You may be surprised to see what people who are not your Facebook friends can see.  Some of your personal information may be exposed without you realizing it.   When it comes to protecting your privacy on Facebook or any other social network site, do not solely rely on the site’s privacy settings.  You can customize your settings so that you can block out information that you do not want outsiders to see.  However, as a rule of thumb, some information is not worth sharing at all. 

By considering the above information, you can protect not only your reputation, identity, but most importantly the safety and well being of you and your family. 

Sources:

Grant, Diamond.  “10 Things You Should Avoid Sharing on Facebook.”  Suite 101.

Kristof, Kathy.  “6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook.” CBS News. 

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