7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Post Personal Information on Social Media
Social media is something that we take for granted in our always-online world. Whether you’re ranting about something that’s bothering you or celebrating your child’s birthday, posting about yourself online is almost second nature at this point. But it’s always important to stop and think about the consequences.
While there’s nothing wrong with sharing a meme or two with your friends, there are risks that come with posting more sensitive information. You can become an easy target for hackers or even become a victim of cyberstalking.
Let’s dive into the darker side of social media and explore the potential dangers of posting personal information on social media platforms.
1. Identity Theft
While it’s easy to create an anonymous profile online, most people prefer to be upfront with their real names and personal email addresses. This makes it easier for mutual friends to find and connect with you. Unfortunately, this also means it’s relatively easy for strangers to do the same.
Depending on what you share online, it can be easy for hackers to find your email address, date of birth, and even your physical address with a quick search on social media. You can probably see how this could lead to identity theft. If a bad actor gets access to your personal information, they can use it to impersonate you, open fraudulent accounts, or sell your data.
Hackers can also exploit personal information beyond contact details. They can manipulate photos of identity cards, birth certificates, or other sensitive documents if you inadvertently share them.
They can also use information such as the name of your first pet, your mother’s maiden name, and other information that often appears in security questions to get past safeguards while trying to access your account.
Doxxing is the act of posting someone’s personal information online with the sole intent of causing mental or physical harm. If someone gets access to your sensitive information, they can publish it online in hopes that people will harass you. This can cause mental distress, ruin your reputation, or even get you fired from a job.
Imagine if your address gets leaked to the internet, you can likely imagine how that’s a major privacy and security risk. Hackers can get this sort of sensitive information by analyzing your social media profile.
You should be mindful of the information you post online. This includes contact details, personal anecdotes, complaints about your life, or details about your family.
Also check your location tagging settings, as posting a photo from home with geotagging can inadvertently share your address with others.
3. Cyberbullying and Harassment
Social media platforms can sometimes be a breeding ground for trolls and toxicity. If someone has it out for you, they can harass you in your DMs, spread rumors about you online, or even send an army of people to spam you with offensive messages.
Some people will brush this off and accept the possibility of cyberbullying when they post online. However, cyberbullying can cause a lot of emotional and mental distress. This can range from temporary sadness to long-term damage to your mental health.
If cyberbullies get access to your phone number, email address, or other social profiles, they can use this information to harass you to no end. Things can get even worse if they get access to photos and videos or information regarding your personal relationships. They can extort you to pay hefty sums in exchange for deleting that information.
But, when has there been any honor among thieves? It’s likely you’ll still be subject to blackmailing and harassment, even after paying cybercriminals.
Cyberstalking sounds less intimidating than physical stalking, but it can cause the same amount of emotional distress. It’s best defined as a constant pursuit, harassment, or monitoring of a person through online channels such as social media. Cyberstalkers can start with excessive messages or comments, but they can quickly escalate to making threats.
The anonymity is what makes these stalkers so insidious. You can just block them and move on, but a persistent stalker will just create a new profile. In most cases, it’s better to report any instances of cyberstalking to the appropriate authorities.
It’s important to protect your personal information and adjust your privacy settings so that random strangers don’t get a chance to message you in the first place. You should also exercise caution when sharing your home address or work location.
5. Manipulative Advertising
A lot of social media platforms are free as they generate most of their revenue from ads. Most of these platforms will convince you that your data is protected but unfortunately, online privacy is a myth. Apps like Facebook and Instagram collect a lot of data from your browsing habits to figure out your likes and dislikes. This is why targeted ads are so accurate.
The information you post online can be accessed by various parties such as advertisers and corporations that build a comprehensive profile of your interests, preferences, and behaviors. Advertisers might also look at political affiliations to promote misleading or controversial content. This amplifies existing biases and can influence public opinion.
6. Phishing Attacks
Phishing, where cybercriminals trick you into revealing personal information, can become even more targeted through social engineering. If you ever click on a link you received from a suspicious-looking account, you’re in for a lot of trouble. Phishing attacks can be used to compromise your privacy, hijack your accounts, or even install malware on your devices.
Cybercriminals can create tailored messages if they have access to personal information such as your name, email address, or even specific details about your interests and preferences. The possibility of falling for this simple attack is higher if the cybercriminal poses as someone from your workplace or an acquaintance of a family member.
7. Career Consequences
Some employers and recruiters might conduct research on your social media profiles before hiring. More often than not, they’ll find something that can influence their hiring decisions. Offensive language, derogatory statements, and controversial opinions can all create a lasting negative impression.
Sharing inappropriate content such as photos of explicit content, drug use, and illegal firearms can also have obvious consequences on your career. All of this harms your professional credibility and jeopardizes your current career as well as your chances of securing future employment.
Protecting Yourself Online and Offline
You won’t be able to sleep at night knowing your doors are unlocked, so why take a similar risk every time you go online? Posting personal information online doesn’t have any real benefits, but it does have a lot of downsides.
While some of the consequences might not sound serious, things such as cyberbullying and doxxing are very real problems that you should be cautious of.