In the modern world, many people wish they were famous but at the same time, they want their private information to remain private. And the best place to express your emotions and thoughts seemed to be the internet. But is it really that safe?
We at Bright Side have found an interesting study. It turns out that there’s a huge difference between the people we communicate with and the people that actually see our posts. There is certain information that we should be really careful about posting. And in the bonus, we will tell you about the moments when it’s better not to go online at all.
Home address information
People don’t post info about their exact home addresses on purpose. But if you check their posts and comments, it may be not that hard to figure it out. Photos of the view through the window, stories from the nearest store, comments on the public transportation situations — all this info gives people a chance to understand where a certain person lives.
Also, many people don’t notice what exactly appears in their photos. For example, you take a photo of a tasty cake on the table or your cat and you don’t see that there’s a box in the photo with your exact address. We often post something we don’t want to share.
- If you do share a picture online, please follow certain rules. Your location should not be identifiable in the photo. For example, you standing near your car where your license plate is visible. Or in front of your house, school, or work. Do not pose in regional wear, or wearing a local logo on your clothing. Also, posing in a mirror gives a clear reflection of other objects in the room. Too many people take their privacy for granted. © Tom Marino / Quora
Geotags on photos
This information is often posted together with our photos. Including the name of the device. Also, we often add the name of the specific place.
A person you don’t want to meet might get this information and use it.
- It’s better to turn off Location Services on your phone. You can use various apps like Exify to remove location data from photos you’ve already taken. © windstrider13 / Reddit
- My employee asked me if he could take the day off because he wasn’t feeling well. When I was eating lunch, I saw his stories from a picnic out of town. He looked extremely healthy. I had to talk to him about that.
A lot of information about yourself
When looking for new subscribers and more likes, we are often too open. We post photos from a morning run in the forest, a shot from our favorite cafe we go to every morning, a tweet from the gym, and so on. This shows us to the world from the best angle, but also reveals a lot of extra information.
Even based on the likes we give, researchers can paint a pretty clear picture of what we are, what we believe in, and what our family histories are. But when we share more information places like banks, insurance companies, and future employers can find and use this info. Experts recommend looking through old information and removing it.
Also, be careful with online tests and quizzes, especially if there are questions asking the name of your account. This information is used in secret questions for account protection. So, you definitely shouldn’t share it.
- I’d venture a guess and say that 90% of people on social media have no clue about online privacy. Just a little cross-referencing and a few other legal websites and you can get their address. © TerrorAlpaca / Reddit
This one dude was attacking my nephew online. I cross-referenced his Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I wasn’t even friends with him on anything. I know his real name, his job, and the company he works for, the general area of the city he lives in and a picture of his house so I’m sure I could find the details on google maps. In about 30 minutes I had this man’s life dissected. Throwaways are important. I didn’t end up using it, but the fact that I had that much info at my fingertips made me reevaluate my online privacy even more. © Swalksies / Reddit
My mom and aunt were almost scammed. A guy sent out messages from my aunt’s name saying that she needed money for her daughter. And it’s because my aunt had mentioned her daughter’s name, the place where she lived, and other personal details in a post.
Talking to strangers
There are people online that we have never seen offline. But frequent communication creates the illusion that we know these people. When this person shares something secret with us, we feel that we should either also share something or say nothing. The latter option will probably destroy our communication.
Before revealing your personal secrets, give it some thought. If you really want to share something, that’s okay. But if you feel forced just because someone shared something with you, it is better to refrain and say that you don’t discuss stuff like this with anyone.
I joined a particular group online that was supposed to be light-hearted and just a bit of fun, or so I thought. Anyway, I was contacted by the mediator over a comment I’d made that he apparently didn’t like and found offensive. He then went off topic altogether and got really persona, making offensive comments about me. He’d been looking through my FB page to find ammunition to use against me. Well, I found this whole thing quite shocking — I truly don’t know where such a reaction came from with regard to him. But I left the group, blocked that person, and moved on. And now I’m careful about groups and will not join anything that is not related to my work. © Lynne Hunter / Quora
About 6 months ago, I was on this Nirvana Facebook fan page. I made a post, asking if anyone had ever met a “fake fan.” 2 hours later, I went back on Facebook to see that the post had literally BLOWN UP. Only about 20–25% of the comments actually answered the question. The rest of the comments were all insults. I finally deleted the post after about 2 and a half hours. © Annabel Doughty / Quora
I run a Facebook page that posts about things going on around my city and it has 15,000+ followers. I was watching a video on YouTube and commented on it with my own opinion, except I was representing the page in the comment, and not just myself. Then for whatever reason, I didn’t think and decided to share it to the cities unofficial Facebook group, for 12,000+ people to see. The next day I woke up and my phone was literally on fire from notifications pouring in from Facebook. I got threats in the comments, phone calls from people because someone released my number, and was afraid to go outside! It was that bad. I’m only 17! Lesson learned, think before you speak, especially when you have an influence on and the trust of thousands of people. © Anonymous / Quora
Photos and videos of friends
If your friends don’t mind and they are ready to share the information about themselves with the rest of the world, why not. But you should ask them before you post information about them. Also, be careful with the photos of people you don’t know.
The same is true for personal information. Telling everyone online that someone you know got married or became a parent is not a good idea. If they want to do it, they will do it themselves.
Screenshots of personal chats
Sometimes, personal chats are so funny that we really want to take a screenshot and post them. And these posts usually get lots of likes.
But there is a flipside. After several posts like this, your friends won’t be happy to share their secrets with you. Nobody wants to see other people discuss their personal thoughts, problems, and typos.
Complaining about the boss and workplace photos
Even if your boss is not on your friend list, don’t complain or post anything about your job online. You might have a colleague that wants to set you up.
Also, don’t publish any photos from your workplace because you might accidentally capture and reveal some confidential information. For example, a password or the name of your latest work project that is supposed to be a secret.
- We had a crazy Friday — lots of orders. I took a picture of the screen and posted it. The next day, my boss called me into his office and told me that one of the clients complained that her personal information was online. In the photo I posted, you could see her first and last name and her phone number. I was fired. © JCdaSpy / Reddit
- Delete the “sent from mobile device” signature from your phone’s email app. Nobody needs to know you’re not at your computer. © FrankGrimesIV / Reddit
Discussing your partner
The internet is not the best place to discuss the behavior of your partner. We don’t share some things even with our friends. But even when some people anonymously talk about personal things online, it’s still possible to understand who this is using the details.
Sooner or later, all of the problems will be solved. And posting about them online won’t help this. And on top of that, the trust in your relationship will be undermined. When you realize that your partner is ready to make anything about your relationship public, you will no longer feel safe enough to share your secrets with them.
If you are in doubt about whether you should post something online, you can always do the grandmother-child test. If a picture can easily be shown to both a grandmother and a child, this means it can go online.
Parties are great. But it’s better to keep your phone in your bag. If you know how to have a good time at a party, it doesn’t mean your boss (or the rest of the world) needs to know that.
- A friend of mine loved posting photos from our parties. All kinds of stuff — the table, the silly dancing. But when everyone started discussing everything about our parties, I had to ask her to stop. And somehow, she was offended.
Congratulating people that are not online
We often congratulate our relatives on their important days. It looks cute. But if this person doesn’t have a page online, this is a bit weird.
For example, cards and wishes for our children that can’t read these posts at all. They won’t see it but some other people will, and some of them can use this information in sinister ways.
Photos of children
In general, it’s not a good idea to post photos of kids online. Not everyone wants to grow up with a family album online. It’s not ethical to post photos of kids that can’t ask you to not do it. And it’s not safe.
Also, don’t post photos of your kids when they are misbehaving, not feeling well, or are sad. Sooner or later, the child will grow up and see these photos, which might influence their future.
Creating a closed profile is not very safe either. Even if parents are careful, other relatives might still share a photo or 2 with other people.
- I made a secret group for my baby on Facebook. Not searchable, an admin (only me) has to invite/admit family and friends. © dontgetcutewithme / Reddit
- I don’t post photos of my child on Facebook. I informed both sets of grandparents that we’d like them to ask permission before posting photos, they were nothing short of scandalized. They have zero understanding of internet privacy or safety. My mother-in-law has an absurd number of Facebook friends, and I recently discovered my dad’s profile was set to public. © ima_mandolin / Reddit
- I work in an elementary school and spend a lot of time discussing appropriate online behavior. A few years ago I started asking the students if they like when their parents post their pics online. The vast majority of them don’t like it. A couple of them said they asked their parents not to and were laughed at or were told it didn’t matter because the picture was cute/funny/etc. It was really sad. © 41potatoes / Reddit
Bonus: When you shouldn’t go online
There are moments in our lives when we should put down our phones and laptops so we don’t inadvertently post something stupid. Of course, communication can help, but you might regret these posts later. Refrain from posting at the following times:
- When you’re angry.
- When you’re stressed.
- After or during a party.
- When you’re sad.
- When you’re tired or sick.
Do you regret anything you’ve posted online?