While reading an article published by Jezebel last week titled Dear Teens, Stop Putting Your Sexy Selfies on Twitter, You Idiots, it occurred to me that it’s been a while since we’ve discussed what other information teens and tweens shouldn’t be posting online, either in their profile or in a post. We see these things all the time and they’re not safe.
Of course we agree with the article and it’s not just about sexy selfies or underage nudes. Minors who use social media should never post drug or alcohol references, even as a joke, or references to anything that is illegal. Cyberbullying and any type of harassment are also a no-no.
The above things about “good” online behavior may be obvious to most young users, but many safety-related aspects aren’t, especially if the user believes that his or her account is semi or fully anonymous. Under a lot of circumstances, it isn’t.
Why worry? Well, there are two reasons you want to limit the amount of personal information you put online – predator risk and doxing.
Predator Risk – Predator risk is obvious, especially for younger kids. The more personal information that is available online, the easier it is for a predator to find you in real life. And let’s not forget the creepers – would be love interests, trolls who are seeking to attack others’ opinions and unwanted “friends”. Don’t make it easy for anyone to find you in real life, or your other online identities, without your permission.
Doxing – Doxing is the process of revealing someone’s personal information online, most of the time maliciously, with the intent of harming the person in some way. In most cases, the person who is doxed was intending to use the web anonymously. If someone tries to dox you, they will use any and all information they can find about you to figure out account names, email addresses, phone numbers and real world personal information. The result can be devastating.
Here are the other things you shouldn’t post on social media
Phone number, email address, home address – If a friend needs this info, send it in a private message. Don’t post it online for everyone to see.
School details – If you’re in high school, this might be okay, but younger kids shouldn’t be giving out school details.
Check ins and exact location info – Especially for younger users, be aware that any time you check in online (Facebook, Foursquare etc.) or have the GPS on your phone turned on, your could be telling the world exactly where you are.
User names and messaging handles – We see this too often, especially on Instagram, where users put their Ask.fm handle or their Kik messaging address in their profile.
Driver’s license – Proud of finally getting your drivers license? Great. Don’t post a picture of it online.
Passport – Same goes for your passport.
Paycheck – “Yay – my first paycheck”. Do not post a picture of it.
Stacks of cash – Yes, people do this, and it’s a bad idea. That picture, combined with location details could make you a target for a robbery.
Gamer tags – Most of the time, video gamers’ screen names are not associated with a real name. That’s a good thing, since hateful trolls abound in online gaming. Keep your private details away from the haters.
In many cases, keeping personal details private is the first step toward staying safe online, and it doesn’t cost anything.