Is Your Family Oversharing On Social Networks? If So You Could Be In Danger


Social media impacts every aspect of modern life - from what we watch on television, where we shop what we buy and making new friends, to even how we vote. Eighty percent of Americans have a Facebook profile, 32 percent of whom have an Instagram and another 24 percent have a Twitter account. Facebook alone collects more than 500 terabytes of information from its users every day.

That amounts to a massive amount of personal details being shared publicly and permanently to complete strangers. Luckily, most of those strangers do not mean to cause you harm by misusing that information – but nonetheless, don’t take any risks by oversharing your personal information.

If you do not take steps to protect yourself against the misuse of the personal information that you might unwittingly share, you can easily find yourself compromised, by internet marketers, trolls, or hackers who will try and steal your identity online. Let’s dive into a look at the dangers you may be facing by oversharing on social networks.


What Is Meant By “Oversharing”?


Communication on social media may be addictive for many, and for most is a pleasant experience, and we are more likely to find out news about friends, family, and things we like to do from online social media than in person. But sometimes, the communication can become too much, and take a darker wrong turn.

Basically, you overshare on social networks when you post personal details that can enable an unscrupulous person to use against you.

The consequences of oversharing on social networks can be dire indeed. That could be mean material that could be used to ruin your reputation (take the example of former US Congressman Anthony Weiner, whose ‘sexting” of obscene communication with a minor)  led to his imprisonment for 21 months. Or maybe you give out information that could be used to hack your accounts – too many people use birthdays, children’s names, where they went to school and college, etc., for password resets, for example – information that many people openly share on social media.

This information can be used by cybercriminals to steal identities, and scam artists to create credit card accounts. Security expert Bill Dean warns against placing any information that you use for your banking or other passwords on social media, he says ”…assume that what you post will be viewed by the world, not just your friends. Don’t publicize information on social media that you use for “challenge questions” to authenticate yourself to banks or reset passwords”. Another tip is to avoid using Facebook to sign into other sites because they then have access to your profile information as well.


How To Avoid Oversharing


Don’t give optional information on social networks - when creating a profile, you do not need to enter all of the information that is requested. The set-up page usually requires you to fill out basic information, such as your name and email. Everything else is optional. Do not feel obligated to put your address and telephone number.

Use privacy settings – on most networks, there are usually different levels of privacy settings to choose from for your profile. On Facebook, for example, there is “open to everyone,” “open to friends of friends” and “friends only.” The best setting to use is the “friends only” setting on all of your privacy choices. “Friends only” is the strictest level of security; it only allows people that you have accepted as a friend to view information about you.

Only connect with people you know – this can be difficult because, in reality, you are most unlikely to have met most of the people you befriend or even know that much about them. You may want to build your network, However, we all feel good when people want to connect with us, and it can be difficult to refuse. It is safer to be choosy, and if in doubt about accepting a request, politely ask the person how and why they want to connect with you. This can this can help protect you from spammers, and other undesirables who use social networking sites to commit crimes.


How Can You Protect Your Child From The Dangers Of Oversharing?


It is important to have a frank discussion with your child about social networking safety. Users ages 13-17 can now share public posts that are viewable by anyone who searches within Facebook. We're talking about teenagers who want to share their every thought and action to the world writ large. So teens are always at risk online. So parents need all the help they can get to keep them safe.

How can you do this? For starters, tell your teen to be very discreet when posting any type of photo, location status, and message. Tell them to ask themselves, and answer, these four questions before posting to the world on social networks:

a. Should I share this? Will that information you share put yourself or someone else in danger?

b. Why do people really need to know where I am and who I am with?  Is it a good idea to let everyone know my exact location?

c. Know who you are befriending online – can they be trusted. What might those people do with the content you post.

d. Before sharing information with the public, does your post give out too much personal information?   

These are valuable questions that apply equally to you as well as your child, and taking these precautions could spare you and your family from embarrassment, financial loss, and personal danger. So use discretion, don’t overshare on social media, and you'll stay safe..