Never before has our privacy been as exposed as it is now with social media, webcams, video doorbells, CCTV, dash cams and mobile phones. We choose to share our days, check-in to where we visit, photograph and video ourselves and others, we are watched from CCTV cameras, dashcams etc and any of this can be viewed and uploaded to the internet with a tap on a screen.
Our once private lives are now led very publicly and because of this, there are things you should never post online.
It seems obvious that we shouldn’t post our home address, but people still do just that, and more. From full dates of birth to personal phone numbers, anything you post online can be assumed public.
Although your privacy settings may be strict, it only takes someone to screenshot your information or a hacker to get into your account and they have that info. Imagine if a friend lost their phone and someone accessed their social media, including friends list? It pays to be vigilant.
Pictures of credit or debit cards
This may be your own card or a card you have found on the street. No legitimate company would require a picture of your credit card, so if you are asked, don’t do it!
If you find a card on the street and wish to reunite it with its owner, try and erase at least the card number, and if possible, leave only the surname on view.
Also, be careful sharing pictures of gig tickets and boarding passes etc. They contain barcodes that can be very easily replicated by criminals !
Swearing doesn’t have quite the same stigma attached to it that it did years ago, but even so, it’s a big no-no! A potential employer could see your profanity-laden posts and it could cost you a much-wanted job! And consider your friend list- does Granny or your 13-year-old cousin need to be seeing it?
When you sign up for your free Notty Account, you can see how much you swear on social media by using our ‘swear score’! If you worry about how you are seen on social media, sign up for your Social Media Score which will tell you how others see you.
Abusive, offensive or adult content
As above, these posts could inevitably end up costing you more than a giggle from friends. And let’s be honest, it’s just not nice for the majority of us to see. It could get you an advisory notice or a ban from a social media site too. It could even be considered a hate crime, and such abuse is punishable.
In 2014, Jake Newsome was jailed for six weeks for offensive comments on Facebook threads after teacher Ann Maguire was stabbed to death in Leeds. He wasn’t the first to be jailed over such offences nor will be the last.
Being negative about your employer
We’ve all had bad days but it may not be a good idea to voice that on Facebook or Twitter. Ok, you may not have your boss on your friend list, but a colleague might, or may screenshot your post and before you know it, your boss knows too. Is it worth it?
On the subject of social media and employers , don’t call in sick and then post pictures of yourself at the local beach! Even the most loyal of colleagues may feel a bit annoyed by that, particularly if they carry your workload when you’re not there!
Anything involving others that you haven’t asked their permission about
This subject covers a lot! If someone has shared something, we don’t really wonder about whether they had permission to do so. So we share it too. What if it’s about a family member’s illness and they hadn’t wanted anyone to know? What if your good friend didn’t want everyone to know she was pregnant just yet? How about the mate’s ex, snapped in her underwear- maybe she doesn’t want that spread all over social media courtesy of the ex?
Drunken videos can be funny within your group, but if a friend doesn’t know you have posted it, how would you feel if they got the sack from their high-flying job? That teacher friend who likes to let their hair down, a few drinks, maybe a bit of ‘recreational’ drug participation (or more!) at a weekend? It’s not looking good for your friend on the job security front if you post that, whether ethical or not.
If you work in retail, it’s advisable not to post about customers even if there is no picture or video attached. These posts tend to go viral very quickly and can land you in a lot of hot water with the customer (and not to mention your employers !) and there could also be legal implications.
While we are on the subject of employers and jobs, don’t bother taking any pictures of your swanky office or neat desk and sharing those either. It only takes one eagle-eyed person to zoom in on a picture and see some sensitive information they shouldn’t (on a screen, a letter, even a Post-It note!) that you hadn’t noticed. You would be breaking your company’s Data Protection rules.
Some friends may not appreciate you posting pictures that include their children either. A lot of people DO post pictures of their kids, but some don’t. Even those that do may not appreciate you doing so- they don’t know who is on your friends’ list that is able to view them. Always ask, or just don’t post them!
Posting others’ photographs without their consent can lead to copyright infringement, so be careful.
It’s very exciting when your long-awaited holiday draws nearer, and it might feel good to share the excitement too. But broadcasting when you are going and how long for is akin to putting a sign in your window saying ‘No one is home for the next two weeks’.
Even with stringent privacy settings, it only takes one hacker or a friend’s lost phone with less stringent security settings than yours, and voila, someone knows you’re away and for how long.
Home insurers have even taken steps to invalidate your insurance claim if you were burgled whilst on holiday if they find out you posted your holiday photos while abroad.
The Financial Ombudsman, in 2015, gave a 5 point guide regarding your online safety while on holiday.
- Lock your profile using privacy settings
- Remove people you do not trust from your friends’ list on Facebook etc.
- Turn off location services
- Search yourself online to see if personal information is being revealed
- Remove personal details from your profile
Be wary of ‘checking-in’ to places, such as the airport, or a pretty local taverna. Tighten your settings about being tagged too; if a holiday companion tags you, that also broadcasts your location to others. Just think- that holiday could be a good time for a social media detox instead!
Inappropriate personal images
We appear to be in an age whereby how many ‘likes’ you receive seems to validate who you are as a person. And in this search for likes, some take it that step further. We’ve all taken a selfie or two, we all have pictures on social media that we don’t particularly like too. But some social media users take ‘getting the perfect picture’ to a new level.
Pouts, breasts, legs and bottoms on show is almost the new norm; posing in barely-there lingerie, or ‘just’ enough to flash whatever body part you feel is needed for those extra comments and likes. Would your Dad or Gran be happy seeing those pictures that the world can see? It’s unlikely and if you feel someone may be upset by it, maybe don’t do it.
Do you actually know the people are that make comments? That 22-year-old male hunk who follows you….is he really 22? What if he’s far older (or younger) and using a fake profile? Would that change your feelings about the comment then? Known as catfishing , this is all too common on social media.
Similarly, if your family don’t want to see those photos, your prospective employers certainly won’t. And as ‘hot’ as you look and as ‘professional’ you feel you are, employers certainly won’t agree with you, those pictures say the exact opposite to some people and organisations.
Always assume everything is public and that the world can view it all. Therefore, post only what you’d be happy with if that was the scenario.
Fake news and videos
Fake news can be very damaging, not only for the person or institution involved. There is plenty of fake news doing the rounds at any one time. Please fact-check anything before you share it.
One such person very innocently shared a post recently about a local hospital ward being Covid free. This person was clearly in the older generation, quite naive and not tech-savvy at all, and wanted to spread some good news. Many others shared it too, until the truth came out.
The hundreds of comments left on her well-intended post were vile, many wishing her dead for spreading such rumours, wishing illness on her, telling her what a disgusting person she was etc. One simple check could have saved that abuse. If those commenting had taken the time to check her too, they’d have seen it was entirely misjudged.
Fake videos are becoming much more realistic too. Known as deepfakes , these videos can be slowed down to make a person appear drunk and slurring or different faces can be superimposed on another body and used for inappropriate situations, and even for blackmail.
Fake news can sway voters in elections, can ruin businesses and destroy people’s and families lives. Fact-check everything and if you can’t, don’t post it. Ask yourself, are you likely to read about an all cancer-curing drug or that 5G causes coronavirus on a social media page, long before you hear such important revelations on a reputable news channel?
Posts asking what your first ‘something’ was
A lot of posts are shared between friends telling others what their first pet’s name was, mother’s maiden name, middle name, where they were born etc. It’s fun when contained between you and your group but it’s also a hacker’s dream! In that one post you have pretty much given away answers to the majority of security questions used to identify you. Use common sense with any posts like that. You don’t have to answer all of them, if at all.
Finally, just remember which site you’re posting what content on. LinkedIn and Snapchat are very different sites and require a modicum of thought about what goes on there!