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For many people, there’s no such thing as “too much information” when it comes to social media. Every detail of their life – what they had for breakfast, whom they met for lunch, and where they went in the evening – is open for all to see, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. But have you ever thought about what you shouldn’t post on social media?
Social media at work and play
There are some obvious places to start, of course. If you’re looking for a new job, for example, you’re usually advised to “scrub” your social media accounts of any incriminating photos that show you doing things you’d rather not future employees see.
And if you are currently employed, it’s also advisable to take a quick look at the company’s social media policies. Any ill-timed tweet could get you fired if it’s deemed to violate the company’s policy. This happens all the time with marketing campaigns – once you hand off your accounts to a young 20-something, you need to make sure they know the rules of the road or you could find yourself with a huge PR crisis in the morning.
If you’re thinking of going on vacation, you’re also advised not to post any updates telling people that you’re away from your home. And, whatever you do, don’t advertise the fact on social media that you happen to be carrying a lot of cash and/or jewelry with you on vacation. That could be an invitation to a burglary. (Just ask Kim Kardashian)
Technology and metadata
This list of things you shouldn’t post on social media keeps getting longer for one good reason – technology makes it possible to discover more and more information about you with everything that you post. Thus, the types of pea-brained people who post photos of themselves after committing a criminal act don’t realize that photos come embedded with all kinds of geolocation metadata, making it easier for the authorities to find you later. Just as you wouldn’t leave any personal DNA in a crime scene, you sure don’t want to leave behind any social media metadata!
And thanks to new facial recognition technology, it’s possible to identify people with you in a photo. This happens all the time now with suspected terrorists – the authorities will examine photos to find out whom the person has been hanging out with recently. With a little facial scan, they can find out their names.
Social media and hackers
The latest social media fear now involves airplane boarding passes. On Instagram, of course, #boardingpass is a hugely popular hashtag, with over 80,000 photos of boarding passes posted. What’s better than bragging to your friends where you’re going than showing off that magical boarding pass to some exotic destination? The only problem is, hackers can use the barcodes on those boarding passes to cause mayhem. If they have your barcode and they know which airline you’re flying, it makes it theoretically possible for them to log in and see all of your personal details.
And that’s why you shouldn’t post any photos of your passport, either. Just recently, a top Trump aide was accused of being in Prague and meeting with the Russians to discuss the U.S. election. However, he quickly tweeted out a photo of a passport and said he’d never been there in his whole life. But, note, he didn’t show the inside pages – he only showed the blue exterior of his passport. When asked about that later, he said it was because hackers could have used information inside the passport for their own nefarious purposes.
Thus, there might be a good reason why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously covers up the webcams on his computers with tape. In the social media era, you never know who’s watching you – or why.