Research conducted by CoreData and Choosi found that, 85.8% of Australians are concerned for their online security and privacy. However, only 54% of people are careful about what they’re posting on social media.
Ruth Dearing, Peaceful Digital Parenting Expert and Author of the #1 international best-seller, ‘How to Keep Your Children Safe Online’, shares 7 key ‘you shouldn’t upload that to social media’ tips that will make you think again before you click ‘upload’.
Many have fallen victim to posting that infamous check-in with a family selfie whilst holidaying, or advertising on Facebook about trading in the rainy weather for a sunny escape. It’s understandable that you’re excited about your holiday, but how vulnerable does this leave us to being a victim of robbery?
Posting holiday details offers thieves easy access to explicit information regarding your whereabouts, absence and most importantly when you’ll be home. It’s a bit like leaving your front door unlocked when you’re not home and inviting strangers in to visit.
Setting your Facebook and Instagram account to private in your privacy settings to limit the visibility of your posts is the first step you should take. On Facebook, you can customise the audience of your posts meaning you can individually select who the post gets shared with.
If you insist on sharing that you’re away from home on social media, then it’s a good idea to mention how grateful you are for the house-sitter that is looking after your home in your absence. Your real friends won’t care either way if it’s true or not, but it’s probably enough to deter a potential thief.
The most effective strategy however is to simply wait until you are home to post your holiday snaps, or to directly send your family and friends the photos through private messages.
While sharing a photo of your child online may seem innocent, the information in the photos could go as far as providing a complete stranger with a connection to your child that they could exploit to pornography or child abuse websites.
Toby Dagg, a senior investigator at the eSafety Commissioner, reports that from one site containing around 45 million child exploitation images “about half the material appeared to be sourced directly from social media”
Set your Facebook and Instagram profile to private so only your friends can see your photos. Also, before you upload a photo of your children or other people’s children, think about the possible consequences of your actions. Could that photo embarrass your child or make them a target for being picked on in future? Always make sure get their permission before you share.
Some social networking sites will encourage anybody who creates a profile to add their mobile number. However, adding your mobile number to the ‘about’ section of your Facebook means anybody can find your name, profile picture and potentially location merely by entering this number into the search bar.
While you may want to be contactable, sharing such personal information can increase the risk of your account getting scammed or hacked. You’d be amazed (and terrified!) at how easy it is for a professional hacker to commit fraud and take over your identity if they want to.
The best way to prevent this from happening would be to remove any personal details from your personal social media accounts. It’s a good idea to share the least information required on all social media platforms.
Alternatively, setting information to ‘hidden’ will prevent unwanted connections being sought out. Also, don’t send anyone your bank account details or passwords through social media chats – ever!
Not posting your home or work address may seem like common sense, but with social media platforms being more open and connected, just linking your LinkedIn page for instance can provide the location of your workplace in an instant. Similarly, sharing your home address welcomes anyone to find out where you live, which is especially dangerous when it comes to you and your family’s security and safety.
Always ensure your location settings are turned off when you ‘check-in’ especially when you are at home. Remove any address you might have in your ‘about’ section and try to never mix your personal social media activity with your professional online profile.
If you have a smartphone, chances are you’re also carrying around a GPS that can pinpoint your location down to a few metres. The GPS in your phone is linked to your social media accounts, allowing you to ‘check-in’ and share the exact location of your posts with your family and friends.
Sharing your location services on social media helps predators not only work out where you live, where you work or places you visit but where you are at certain times of the day and when your house will be empty.
The safest option is to disable location settings in both Facebook and Instagram. You can do this by going into “Settings” on your smartphone, select “Privacy”, then select “Location Services.” Once you are in “Location Services”, disable location sharing in both Facebook and Instagram. Once you have disabled location sharing, don’t give away your location by including it in your hashtags.
Posting any form of credit card or financial information on a social network or public forum is an invitation for identity theft and fraud. Whether it’s as naïve as taking to Facebook to display that flashy new credit card, your ‘first pay cheque’ or your kid’s shocking phone bill you’ve just received in the mail, you are providing hackers with accessibility to your financial accounts. Hackers can use that information to acquire both assets and further profiling, which can be used to commit identity theft.
Don’t upload anything to social media that contains your financial details. It’s as simple as that. If your friend messages you on social media asking you to send your account details so they can pay you back, don’t reply through social media. Tell them you will message or call them.
We love to make everyone jealous on social media when we’re going on holidays by snapchatting or uploading a photo of our boarding pass showing our exotic destination. However, that very document contains your name, where you’re travelling to and a barcode. The barcode alone allows hackers to extract future travel plans and your frequent flyer account details.
Passports, photo IDs, flight tickets, concert tickets etc. should all be guarded closely because it can quickly escalate to identity theft and pose a threat to your financial and personal security.
Be aware of the sensitive information that personal documents, tickets and IDs contain and therefore resist from sharing this information on social media. If you can’t resist sharing a photo of a flight or concert ticket, make sure you cover the barcode and your personal details. However, it’s simply not worth the risk.