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Walking the Fine Line of Social Networking

social media oversharing

Photo Credit: mkhmarketing on Flickr [Creative Commons license]

How much do you think someone can find out about you, just from a simple Google search?

Maybe it’s time to do a test.

The Test

Open up an empty tab, search your name, and take a look at the top results. Is your Facebook page included? What about your Twitter account? How many clicks does it take before you find your own address online? How about your employer?

Chances are, nearly all of your important information, from your birth date to your alma mater to your current job title, can be found within one or two clicks. If your Facebook profile is relatively public, all of this personal info is very likely gathered in one place.

Sharing vs Oversharing

The trouble with modern life is that you have to walk a fine line between sharing enough online and sharing too much. If you’re not active on Facebook, for example, you often miss out on event invitations and other important social notifications. On the other hand, putting too much information on Facebook can give a stranger everything he or she needs to steal your identity, or give a stalker enough information to track you down. To quote famous con man-turned-FBI expert, Catch Me If You Can’s Frank Abagnale: “If you tell me your date of birth and where you’re born [on Facebook], I’m 98 percent [of the way] to stealing your identity.”

Likewise, being too careless on social media has the potential to derail your career, if not your entire life. Take, for example, the recent story of Justine Sacco, a PR executive who made the mistake of tweeting a racist joke before leaving on an 11-hour flight to South Africa. She was fired as soon as she landed in Cape Town, after her tweet had spread virally throughout the internet. Imagine what it must be like to disembark from an airplane and realize that thousands of people know your name — and that your employer no longer needs your services.

The Fine Line of Social Networking

What does this mean for you? It means that you need to balance the careful art of creating a personable, attractive social media profile without giving away too much information or giving employers a reason to fire you. It means you need to know how to both prevent and identify the signs of identity theft, and how to tell when your social media profiles have been hacked. Simply put, it means you need to be careful about what you put on social media, and what it says about you.

First, you need to think about what information you want to share. Take a quick glance at your social media profiles, from Facebook to Foursquare, and see what types of information are revealed. Do you come across as a responsible adult, or a person who parties every weekend? What does it look like you truly value: your friends, your job, your hobbies, or your shoes? Can any part of your profiles be considered offensive? If your publicly shared information doesn’t reflect the person you want to present to the world, it’s time to fix them.

You also need to remember that people can access your social media profiles from all devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. When you think of protecting your social media profiles from hackers or identity thieves, for example, you probably only think of installing security on your home computer. However, Android security software and other tablet/smartphone security is equally important, as identity thieves can strike from any operating system and, according to, even through any open app if the app’s OS is not secure.


Social media is an important part of modern life, and it is a good way to keep in touch with friends and meet new people. It’s also a dangerous way to share too much information, if you’re not careful. The sooner you learn how to walk the fine line of social networking, the better off you — and your social media profiles — will be.


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