The invention of social media platforms has given us the opportunity to interact with people in a way we never thought was possible. A text box, an image box, one click on a button and we broadcast our feelings, ideas and opinions to the whole world without any stress.
It is true that social media through the internet helps us interact with others easily and fosters networking but one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that there is much difference between the cyber world and our own reality when it comes to security.
People now leave the security of their data to social media companies forgetting that fact safety of lives and data is something that we should take seriously, and most times these companies fail to protect us since the amount of data at their disposal is overwhelming.
Even when the social media companies try as much as possible to protect this information, some persons are their own enemies as the amount of information they share online (information they will rarely share with close friends) is way too much and makes them vulnerable.
For some social media addicts, their whole life habits and patterns can be tracked from their stories or timeline via their post as a result of this making them easy targets for trolls, hackers and even thieves who sometimes use these platforms to track their victims.
The internet never forgets, while you think you might have deleted a post or picture, a screenshot might have been kept somewhere. This is the internet, anything you share can be used against you in the cyber world and harm you also physically because most times, what you share to the internet belongs to the internet.
Dangers of Sharing Too Much Information Online
Many people still don’t realise there are imminent dangers the moment we click on the share button. The information we share online can have the following consequences;
Used To Stalk You
People tend to share pictures of where they are, where they are going on a vacation, their plans for the day. This information is a goldmine to those who want to harm you. By always giving them detailed information of where you are, you can be robbed, or your home could be broken into while you were away.
Pictures are not safe too as they contain metadata (which includes your geographic position in terms of longitude and latitude) that can be used to track you too. A simple location shared via Facebook, Twitter and a check in on Foursquare give away your location way too easily.
Reduce Your Chances for Employment
Employers now run social media checks on job applicants to see if they can find any dirt on them. Those who gossip too much about friends and parents will likely do the same about their bosses and coworkers. Your online reputation is as important as your offline reputation. If you must share online, make sure it is smart and thoughtful, your posts and tweets speak for you, whether you like it or not
Used to Rob You
The last time Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris in 2016, she had shared the picture of her diamond ring and expensive pieces of jewellery online. Now think about this next time you want to flash your expensive jewellery all over the internet, you don’t know who is watching, the line that separates the physical world from the cyber world is thin and blurred.
There is a site called pleaserobme that used data from Twitter and Foursquare to show what houses are vacant and can be robbed. The website made people realise how they made it easy for others to rob them by just sharing their location details.
Leaves you vulnerable
You are in a gathering, a park or bus, someone comes over to you and start telling you all about your life, your favourite meal, colour, song and almost every other thing you suppose were private. You freak out, and you are already vulnerable because you know nothing about the person. Think about that scenario next time you want to share personal details online.
Thanks to the numerous pieces of information you have been sharing about yourself online, someone can easily take your identity and impersonate you. Hackers can easily gather your information and sell them in the dark web to the highest bidder. Who knows what damage they can cause when armed with your identity knowing the law will never chase them but you.
How To Know If You Are Oversharing
Many people like influencers and marketers rely on social media to earn a living, and for some models, their entire life and career depend on being in the spotlight. If you are none of the above (or your job does not depend on revealing your personal details), you are over sharing information if;
1) Your entire life and routine can be gleaned off your social media profile and posts.
A simple “off to work” post has given away more information than you think. For others, they update their status every time giving out details of their day and how it was spent. Would you really share that information with thousands of people daily if you were offline?
2) You are gossiping about friend, family, co-workers and bosses:
It is true that people can be annoying and that experience can leave us stressed. Instead of addressing this problem with those who made you angry, many take to social media to vent their frustration and anger.
You don’t know who is reading and a screenshot can be used as evidence against you. Your rant can portray the person in a way that is bad making them a target for trolls, it may also reveal confidential matters with which you have been entrusted.
3) Strangers recognize you and your family members:
Nothing is as scary and dangerous as realizing the fact that someone knows almost everything about you but you know nothing about them. This is one of the signs that you are oversharing.
4) You are posting personal details:
Personal details are supposed to remain personal, and I wouldn’t want to associate myself with a person who can’t be discreet about even their own information. Revealing information like your address, intimate life and any other information that should have been private makes you an over sharer.
How To Reduce Oversharing and Protect Your Data Online
Dropping the habit of oversharing and protecting your information requires some steps. The following might help;
You are responsible for all you post, and you are responsible for the information you have shared. You also have to know there isn’t really any difference between the cyber world and our own world when it comes to protecting out personal details. The moment you accept that, you will be able to make amendments.
Think before you post
Most times we share too much without thinking about the impact and consequences. Stop and analyse the situation if the information you want to share will leave you vulnerable. Don’t open yourself to unwanted security risks. Learn to control your urge to share. Keep offline matters offline when possible and don’t rant about friends, family and co-workers.
Use Privacy and Security Settings
Most social media platforms have settings that can limit access to those who can see the information you share. Use them to control your information, though it shouldn’t become an excuse for you to start oversharing.
A simple screenshot and boom, you are viral and feeling insecure again. For the Facebook platform, everything you need to know about Privacy settings can found here, while the bulk of privacy tips for Twitter is found here.
Keep personal information personal and always assume the possibility that whatever you share online can be shared by others. Once posted, always posted. Your account can be hacked, and the information you felt was protected can fall into the wrong hands.
If possible seek help from friends and family
The internet is a goldmine of information, and social media is where the purest and untainted information is found. Being a little bit less predictable is part of our efforts at being security conscious. If you will not share the information offline, don’t share it online. What you share on the internet belongs to the internet, and there is nothing much you can do about it. Don’t trade your life and safety for few likes and retweets.