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How Much is Too Much: How to Know Your Limits with Sharing Online

Participating in social media and other forms of online communication are not only fun, but also often required for networking and professional purposes. While you may enjoy posting pictures you just took at your favorite restaurant and uploading them to one of your online profiles, or sharing how excited you are to be going on vacation in a few days, you have to be careful. Once a photo is shared online it can be copied and used for a variety of purposes, some potentially detrimental for you.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine how much is too much to share when it comes to electronic and online communication. Below are a few safe online practices to consider.

Be Selective With Photo Sharing

The combination of smartphones and social media allows you to post a picture online within seconds of taking it. However, you want to be mindful of what you are sharing, and who has access to your photos. For example, if you are celebrating your birthday and are out on the town with your friends, wearing revealing clothing and drinking a bit too much, you may not want your colleagues — who you are also friends with on social media sites — to have access to these personal photos. Also consider that every photo that is posted online can end up in the hands of people you have never met before. Photos can be used to steal your identity, or as part of other nefarious online activity.

Be Mindful Of Public Wi-Fi

When accessing any online accounts via public Wi-Fi be mindful of the sensitivity of the information you are accessing. This is particularly important when logging into accounts with banking and financial information, or email accounts in which you communicate sensitive information. To safeguard yourself when going online in public, you can invest in secure, portable Wi-Fi that leaves you less vulnerable to being hacked.

Consider Separate Social Media For Close Friends And Family

With the Internet becoming an increasingly popular networking tool, you may receive friend requests on social media sites from colleagues or clients who you may prefer to have less access to your personal or social life. Posts can easily be misread, misinterpreted, or your personal choices may go against the value and belief systems of the company that employs you. If your employer, colleagues, or clients are offended by your online activity, you might get fired.

Many people opt to have separate social media accounts for their friends and family, or to use their security features to give limited access to people they have a less personal relationship with. Since social media is often used for networking, many people will meet someone new at a party or event and almost instantly exchange social media contact information. For this reason, it is a good idea to periodically scroll through your friend list to ensure you are comfortable with everyone on it having access to the information you post online.

Monitor And Talk To Your Kids About Online Safety

Kids of today grow up with social media and electronic communication as a social norm. Since kids are young and impressionable, you must take time to educate them on the dangers of oversharing online. Oftentimes kids unintentionally overshare without realizing the potential dangers of their actions. As parents, it is your job to keep your children safe, both on and offline. The best way to do this online is to periodically talk to your kids about the dangers of oversharing information, and by monitoring their Internet and social media use.

While your children may want their privacy, it is your job to keep them safe. You can do this by friend requesting and following them on their social media sites so you have access to their latest posts. You can also require them to share their password with you so you can monitor their messages, and you can invest in computer software applications that allow you to track and monitor your children’s online use.

By giving more thought to the information you share with others online, you can reduce the risk of your sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. While you may think you will never get hacked or be a victim of identity theft, no one ever believes these things will happen to them — until they do.

The world wide web is undoubtedly a marvelous information sharing tool, but users should be sure to maintain an awareness of the various risks involved. For those who’d like an additional layer of protection, Jeremy Crawford recommends the ID theft services from Protect Your Bubble.

Image credit goes to alles-schlumpf.


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Sharon Florentine is a freelance writer who covers everything from data center technology to holistic veterinary care and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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