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We share so many details of our daily lives online, but where should we draw the line on what we share about ourselves, our family, and our friends? There are some tidbits of personal information that it is best to never share online, here are ten of them:
1. Your Full Birthdate
While you may love getting loads of birthday wishes posted by your friends on your Facebook Timeline, having your birthdate posted on your profile may provide scammers and identity thieves with one of the key pieces of information needed to steal your identity and open up accounts in your name.
2. Your Current Location
Many people don’t realize that when they post a status update or a tweet, they may also be revealing their current location. Giving out your location information can be dangerous because it tells potential thieves that you might not be at home. Depending on your privacy settings, that innocent tweet from your vacation spot might give the bad guys the green light they were waiting for to rob your house.
3. Pictures of Your Children or Your Friends’ Children Tagged With Their Names
Ok, this is a sensitive topic. We all want to protect our kids, we would lay down in front of a truck to protect them, but many of us post hundreds of name tagged pictures of our children online for the world to see. The problem is that you can never be sure that only your friends are seeing these pictures. What if your friend has their phone stolen or logs into Facebook from the library and forgets to log out?
You can’t rely on the “Friends only” setting because you really never know. Assume that everything is public and don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want the world having access to.
If you must post pictures of your children, remove any geotag information, and avoid using their real names in the picture tag or description.
Your true friends know their names, no need to label them. Same goes for tagging pictures of your friends’ kids. If in doubt leave the tag out.
I would be a hypocrite if I said I had removed all tags of my kids from Facebook. It’s a long process to go back through years worth of photos, but I work on it a little bit at a time, eventually I’ll have them all removed.
4. Your Home Address
Again, you never know who might be looking at your profile. Don’t post where you live as you are making things easy for the bad guys. What can criminals do with your address? Check out our article on How Criminals Use Google Maps to ‘Case the Joint’ to find out.
5. Your Real Phone Number
While you may want your friends to be able to contact you, what if your real phone number falls into the wrong hands. It’s possible that your location could be narrowed down by someone using a reverse phone number lookup tool which are freely available on the Internet.
An easy way to allow people to contact you by phone without giving them your real phone number is by using a Google Voice phone number as a go-between. Check out our article on How to Use Google Voice as a Privacy Firewall for full details.
6. Your Relationship Status
Want to give your stalker the green light they’ve been waiting for while simultaneously letting them know that your more likely to be home alone?
Posting your relationship status is the surest way to accomplish this. If you want to be mysterious, just say “It’s Complicated”.
7. Pictures With Geotags
There’s no better road map to your current location than a geotagged picture. Your phone might be recording the location of all pictures you take without you even knowing it. To find out more about why geotags aren’t necessarily as cool as you thought they were and to learn how to nix them from your pix, check out our article on How to Remove Geotags from Pictures.
8. Vacation Plans
“Hey, I’m going to be on vacation on the 25th of August, please come rob me”, that’s basically what you’re saying to social network trolling criminals when you post your vacation plans, vacation photos, and when you location tag yourself while you’re still on vacation. Wait until you are safely home before uploading your vacation pics or talking about your vacation online. Is “checking in” at that fancy restaurant really worth giving up your location information to potential criminals?
Check out our article on How to Disable Facebook Places Location Tracking for tips on how to avoid accidentally checking in somewhere.
9. Embarrassing Things You Wouldn’t Want Shared With Your Employer or Family
Before you post anything online, think to yourself, would I want my boss or family to see this? If not, don’t post it. Even if you post something and delete it, doesn’t mean that someone didn’t take a screenshot of it before you had the chance to remove it. For more tips on this topic check out our article: How to Monitor and Protect Your Online Reputation.
10. Information About Your Current Job or Work-related Projects
Talking about work-related things on social networks is a bad idea. Even an innocent status update about how mad you are about missing a deadline on a project could provide valuable information to your competitors that they could leverage against your company.
Does your company have a security awareness training program to help educate users about threats such as these? If not, check out How to Create a Security Awareness Training Program to learn how to develop one.