With more than a billion people currently on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine and other social media networks, it's hard to keep anything private. Social media is a place we connect with old friends and new, to share pictures, jokes, birthday and reunion invitations, songs and recipes. For most, it's the only place to keep in touch with long distance relationships and watch nieces and nephews grow up across the country. But there are some personal details that you should avoid posting on social media. Even if you have your privacy settings high, there are professional criminals who are lurking and waiting for you to leak something to their benefit. So what should you not share on social media?
1. Your Birth Date and Birth Place
Admittedly, its nice to see all the birthday messages on your Facebook wall on your special day of the year. But if you allow people to see the year you were born along with the city you were born in, you are giving identity thieves a window to steal your identity. List the month and date, but not the year.
2. Vacation Plans
There is no easier way to tell thieves that your home will be vacant and all your items ripe for the taking than posting a countdown to your vacation on your social media. You may believe that you have your profile listed privately, but nothing stops a friend from taking a screen shot of your post and sending it to a criminal.
3. Your Current Location
Along with point #2, do not post photos of your current location! Instead, take photos and enjoy your trip, then post to social media later. "Checking in" to businesses, especially out of town businesses, is a no-no because it tells criminals that you are not home and to go on over and rob (or case) the place.
4. Home Address
Social media is a great place to organize an event and make plans with your friends. You may even decide to meet up at your house, so you need to give your friends your address. Don't. At least, not publicly. If you have to give out your address, it's best to call and tell someone over the phone. But if you have to, you can private message them. Don't list it on the news feed.
5. Tagged Photos of Your Children
Baby pictures are everywhere. It's unavoidable. Kids are cute! However, you do not want strangers to see photos of your children (or your friends children) and learn their names, what schools they go to, their after school activities, etc. You may trust the friends on your profile accounts, but what if your "friend" loses their phone and did not log out of Facebook? Now anyone can see photos of your children.
6. Your Relationship Status
Do not give a thief the opportunity to learn that you live alone. "Single" relationship statuses may indicate that you do not have a roommate.
7. Your Phone Number
The reverse phone number look up tool is free. Do not give a thief the opportunity to take your phone number from a social media profile and reverse look it up to find out where you live. Private message your number to people if you want them to have it, but don't post it publicly.
8. Your Opinions About Your Place of Business
Social media is not a good place to vent about your personal business, but especially not about your work business. Even if your connections are not friends with your boss, your co-worker or even your business owner, there is a chance that they could meet them sometime in the future. Never bad mouth the company you work for on social media.
9. Photos of Your New Home
Just buy a home? Leave the photos off Facebook! Photos highlighting the entry ways and windows in your home will only allow a criminal the opportunity to case the home without even being there. Do not give them the chance. Again, those photos can be screen shot and shared with anyone by "friends" on your profile.
10. If-You-Have-To-Think-Twice Photos
If you have to think twice about a photo or post, you probably shouldn't post it. Your online reputation is very important and cannot be deleted.
Be smart and just remember than anything you post on the internet is assumed public. Even on your private profiles.