The Dangers of Oversharing on Social Media: Why It’s Better to Keep Some Things to Yourself

Don't share too much about yourself on social media

Did you know that most people don’t mind sharing basic information about themselves online? According to PCMag, 59% of Americans mention the name of their hometown and 48% mention the school they go or went to. Some even go as far as sharing their kids’ names (20%), a picture of their house (17%), and health details (13%).

But where do people post the most info about themselves? The answer is simple: social media platforms, with Instagram, Facebook, X (Twitter), and TikTok taking the lead.

If you want to learn how not to overshare on social media, you’ve taken the first step towards safeguarding your privacy. Read on to learn more.

Understanding the Risks of Oversharing

Navigating the world of social media can be a bit like walking a tightrope. On one side, there’s the desire to connect and share our lives with others. On the other, there’s the need to protect our personal information and maintain our privacy.

Unfortunately, sharing too much personal information can lead to significant risks such as identity theft and personal safety threats. Hence, we must be cautious about the details we share online to lessen the potential risks associated with oversharing on social media.

The Lure of Oversharing

But what drives us to overshare in the first place? It could be seeking validation or experiencing emotional triggers. In moments of emotional distress and loneliness, people often turn to online spaces to connect with others. These emotional states can trigger impulsive behavior, prompting individuals to overshare content online without sufficient reflection.

Recognizing Sensitive Information

Identifying what constitutes sensitive information, such as personally identifying information, is the first step towards preventing oversharing. Sensitive information includes personal details such as residential addresses, workplace, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, login credentials, bank account details, and more. Protecting this information is critical as its exposure can lead to identity theft and scams.

Avoiding Location Exposure

A crucial aspect of setting boundaries on social media is avoiding location exposure. By not posting current or future location details, we can prevent unwanted attention and security risks related to location details on social media. This includes not sharing travel plans to prevent signaling periods when you won’t be home, consequently becoming more vulnerable to burglary and other harmful intents.

Disclosing one’s current location while messaging online should also be avoided to prevent revealing sensitive positional information.

Red Flags in Posts and Pictures

Even seemingly innocuous posts and pictures can reveal sensitive information unintentionally. Here are some examples:

  • Geotagged photos
  • Check-ins on vacation
  • Photos at the airport
  • Images showing valuable belongings

Therefore, it’s imperative to follow a general rule of not posting anything on social media that you wouldn’t want seen by the public or permanently visible on the internet.

Consequences of Oversharing

Oversharing on social media can lead to several unintended consequences. Here are some examples:

  • Burglars can use hashtags like #airport or #onvacation to track someone’s address and figure out when they are away from home, putting them at risk of break-ins.
  • Posting sensitive information can result in cyber harassment, including cyberstalking and cyberbullying.
  • Unintentionally posting passport details or a boarding pass (remember those Instagram posts?) can make you a victim of identity theft.
  • Sharing pictures of luxury items can lead to burglary.

Privacy Controls and Account Settings

Make your TikTok account private

Having explored the risks of oversharing, let’s now delve into the importance of privacy controls and account settings. Effective management of these settings can substantially bolster the protection of your online presence.

These settings allow you to limit the visibility of your posts, profile information, and friends list to minimize the insight strangers can have into your personal life.

Customizing Privacy Settings

Customizing your privacy settings can help limit the visibility of your personal information and control who can contact you. This includes:

These steps can help maintain a secure online presence and protect your privacy.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security for social media accounts beyond just a password. Cybercriminals can take over accounts by guessing or cracking passwords, particularly when users share too much personal information on their social media profiles.

Using unique, robust passwords in combination with two-factor authentication can greatly heighten the security of your social media pages.

Regular Security Check-ups

Regular security check-ups are a critical part of maintaining your online safety. These audits can help identify and remove apps and services that should no longer have access to your information.

It’s essential to conduct a security audit of social media account permissions every three months to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.

Mindful Posting: Be Aware of What You Share Online

As social media becomes more integrated into our daily lives, adopting mindful posting practices becomes vital. Having a checklist of what not to share on social media can ensure that your posts are considered and respectful of your privacy and the privacy of others.

Intentions and Implications

Before sharing, it’s important to contemplate whether a post is a quest for validation or a meaningful sharing of experiences, and consider its privacy implications. Reflecting on the potential emotional impact of shared content can help ensure that your posts are positive, actionable, helpful, and reflective of a consistent voice that resonates with your intended audience.

Visual Content Scrutiny

When it comes to sharing visual content, such as photos and videos, careful inspection is crucial. Sensitive information can easily be exposed unintentionally, especially in the background of images.

Thus, proactively reviewing images and videos before posting can greatly diminish the possibility of unintentionally sharing private information.

Post Now or Later?

Another essential part of mindful posting is deciding when to post on social media. Prioritizing privacy and security over real-time updates can help maintain your safety. This implies postponing posts about your current location or ongoing activities, and sharing content after the conclusion of events or vacations, instead of in real-time.

Social Media Etiquette and Discretion

As we navigate the world of social media, maintaining a sense of etiquette and discretion can help us remain safe and respect others’ privacy. This requires following platform-specific rules and guidelines, and steering clear of sharing content that could put job prospects or current employment at risk.

Professionalism in Posts

Maintaining professionalism in your posts involves:

  • Refraining from posting rants or complaints about work or work relationships.
  • Avoiding offensive or discriminatory content.
  • Not sharing privileged or inside information.

Moreover, positive professional representation includes responsibly representing your employer, maintaining positivity about work across platforms, and engaging with others respectfully.

Respecting Others’ Privacy

Alongside safeguarding our own privacy, we must also respect the privacy of others. This includes obtaining permission from friends and family before sharing their personal information and responsible content sharing by verifying information for its accuracy and crediting original sources. Even if you decide to share pictures of your friends that you find innocent without their permission, your friends won’t likely appreciate it.

Handling Private Conversations

Private conversations ought to stay private. Posting or sharing the contents of private conversations without consent should be avoided as it can breach trust and potentially be illegal, depending on the jurisdiction.

Tools and Resources for Online Safety

Downloading cybersecurity software

Various tools and resources are available to enhance your online safety further. From cybersecurity software to educational platforms and support networks, these tools can provide additional layers of protection and help you navigate the world of social media more safely, especially when interacting with strangers online.

Cybersecurity Software

Cybersecurity software is crucial in safeguarding your online activities. This includes antivirus programs and virtual private networks (VPNs) that create a secure and encrypted connection over the internet between your device and the server.

Secure browsers like Tor and using incognito mode can also help maintain online anonymity and privacy across the internet.

Educational Platforms

Educational platforms can be a valuable resource for improving digital literacy and understanding safe social media practices. From Facebook’s Digital Literacy Library to Google for Education, these platforms offer guides and tutorials on essential digital skills.

Boosting your digital literacy is vital for responsibly navigating the digital world and maintaining safe social media habits.

Support Networks

Beyond individual efforts, support networks significantly contribute to online privacy and security safeguarding through education and advocacy. These networks, including the Foundation for Technology and Privacy Outreach, EPIC, and ISACA, provide resources and knowledge to improve the security of web applications, which is crucial for protecting personal information online.

Summary

While the allure of social media can often lead us to overshare, it’s crucial to understand the risks associated with this behavior. By customizing privacy settings, practicing mindful posting, and utilizing available tools and resources, we can significantly reduce these risks and protect our privacy. Remember, it’s not just about what we share, but also how, when, and where we share it.

FAQ

What counts as oversharing?

In a few words, it’s revealing too much about yourself or others. Posting things like location, phone number, workplace, Social Security number, login credentials, bank account details, personal conversations, company information, and just anything that can put your or other people’s safety at risk is considered oversharing.

What causes oversharing on social media?

Oversharing on social media can be caused by strong emotions, such as a desire for support or a need to vent. Research also indicates that personality traits, anxiety, and attention-seeking behavior can contribute to oversharing.

Are there consequences of sharing too much online?

Identity theft, fraud, cyberstalking, real-life stalking, cyberbullying, and impersonation are some of the most common consequences of oversharing.

How can I avoid oversharing on social media?

Be thoughtful about what you post and apply security best practices. Always consider whether something is more suitable as a private message rather than a public post.

Should I make my social media accounts private?

Making your social media accounts private helps safeguard your personal information from strangers. Also, if you don’t know whether to approve or deny a follower request, run a background check on your potential follower on Nuwber.

Eugene Kirdzei
Eugene Kirdzei

Chief Technical Officer at Nuwber
With nearly two decades of experience in the IT industry, Eugene possesses comprehensive knowledge across his professional field, including in data management, data protection, and information search. Through his writing, he aims to provide valuable insights and practical advice on how to safely explore the online environment and leverage digital tools to enhance people’s lives.