It’s important to watch what you post. These posting pitfalls could endanger your job, your relationships, and your identity.
Bragging about your upcoming trip online might seem harmless, but snapping a photo of your boarding pass is a definite don’t. Sure, your followers already know your name—and they might even know your destination—but according to Brian Krebs, author and founder of Krebsonsecurity.com, which specializes in investigative stories on cybercrime and computer security, other personal data is at risk. Your frequent flyer card and passenger name record (PNR) could be jeopardized with a social post. With a little finagling, hackers can access your earned miles, phone number, date of birth, and even passport data. Based on your booking number, criminals can also find out when you leave and return. Knowing that no one is home could entice burglars to break in while you’re away.
Posting photos of paychecks, credit cards, and wads of cash is just asking for trouble. Aside from being in poor taste, doing so increases the chances of you getting mugged. Also steer clear of photos (or captions) that give away financial information such as the name of your bank.
Winning lotto ticket
If you’re lucky enough to snag a winning lottery ticket, be smart enough not to brag. Sharing betting slips isn’t a huge liability for small amounts, but, if they want to put in the effort, criminals can replicate the scannable barcode and steal your winnings. Don’t miss these 20 cyber security secrets hackers don’t want you to know.
Confidential work emails
It’s a good rule of thumb to keep work off of your social media, especially when it comes to confidential documents. While the National Labor Relations Act protects employees by allowing them to exercise the first amendment and engage in speaking freely and truthfully about the workplace (even when their feedback is negative) there are limitations. If your company sent an exciting email about a new development or branding idea, the last thing you want to do is let the competition know. Airing complaints—or posting photos of “venting” conversations between you and coworkers—isn’t smart either. In fact, it’s a sure way to get sacked. Here are more social media moves that could sabotage your career.
Posting identifying information on social media is equivalent to losing it—or giving it away. While a snapshot of the birth certificate of your new bouncing baby might seem like a heart-warming announcement about a major life change, it can put your little one at risk for identity theft. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, allowing this government document to fall into the hands of a stranger could do permanent damage. A birth certificate is considered the “bedrock identifying document” and can get you a new Social Security card, passport, and driver’s license. Once someone has control of it, proactively preventing fraud is near impossible.
Work that isn’t copyrighted
You might be proud of your writing, but posting a snap of the poem or short story you’ve written before publishing isn’t the best idea—especially if you’re looking to submit to a journal or enter a competition. Someone stealing your award-winning line might lead to a case of he-said, she-said when it comes to who originally created the work. Even if you writing only has sentimental value—and isn’t exactly Pulitzer worthy—posting it online makes it easy for people to copy, paste, and claim. Keep your wise words to yourself until they’ve been copywritten, and then have your fans buy the book instead.
Children (who aren’t yours)
Posting photos of children’s smiling faces might seem innocent enough, but it’s best to think twice before submitting photos of minors on social. According to Lawyers.com, child photography and videotaping laws are changing. Run your own business and looking to upload pics from last weekend’s family-filled picnic? Make sure you comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 and its rules regarding posting identifying information including a child’s school, full name, or hometown, first. Also, take note that consent can vary depending on the state. As of 2012 in Georgia and New Jersey, for example, laws passed to make it illegal for anyone other than a parent to photograph a minor. Make sure you know what you should never post about your own children on social media.
Memories from a drunken night
As a rule of thumb, you should never post anything online that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. While Inc.com reports that a picture of you holding a beer may no longer be as big of an issue as it used to be, repeated photos showing you obviously intoxicated doesn’t make a great first impression. And that alone can kill your chances at getting a new job. What employers definitely won’t tolerate, however, are photos or mentions of illegal drugs and racial slurs. Even if you post them jokingly, others won’t see them that way. According to TIME, if your current company believes that behavior is hurting their own reputation, you could get fired.
In an increasingly politically charged climate, there are more political posts and cartoons on social media than ever. While it’s easy to hit the “share” button on a cartoon, it could cost you your job. The First Amendment only refers to situations where the government impedes free speech, not private companies, which means people working in the private sector can—and do—get fired for political posts. Lee Tien, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the New York Times, “You don’t have the right to speak freely in the workplace.” However, some states have enacted laws that make it illegal for employers to discriminate based on political beliefs unless that political activity interferes with the functioning of the workplace. What’s more, political posts inevitably lead to long-winded arguments that could make you lose friends (online and offline) in the process.
Other people’s announcements
Your sister just called to tell you she’s pregnant, and in all the excitement, you start drafting a thoughtfully composed post about how happy you are for her and how excited you are to be an aunt, complete with the ultrasound photo your sister sent you. Don’t publish it. An announcement that doesn’t directly involve you—especially a life-changing one, like an engagement or pregnancy—isn’t yours to make. Wait until the people involved to make it official online first, and then post your congratulations. If a post never comes, don’t assume they just forgot to make one. There’s probably a personal (or even legal) reason they’re not broadcasting the news online. Don’t miss these social media mistakes that can hurt your relationships.
Someone else’s photos
By doing so, you could be breaking the terms of service of that social media platform and, more importantly, the law. For example, section five of Facebook’s Terms of Service states: “You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law. We can remove any content or information you post on Facebook if we believe that it violates this Statement or our policies. … If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.” Further, you can be held liable for copyright infringement if you post photos that aren’t your own without consent. That could result in paying monetary damages or a lawsuit, depending on the nature of the photo. Make sure you know these other everyday things that are actually illegal.