The Russians are coming: 10 Things you need to stop sharing on social media – NOW
Monday, news broke that the biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is fake.
This week Facebook also launched a new tool that lets users check whether their data was harvested during the Cambridge Analytica data scandal; a breach that has affected approximately 87 million users, mainly in the United States.
As Russian hackers attack and stories about cyber terrorism continue to make headlines, we thought it best to compile this handy list of things you need to stop sharing on social media – RIGHT NOW!
Much of this is common sense, but you may find yourself identifying some surprising blind spots as well.
Political tirades that could get you fired
How many times have we seen stories about store clerks, civil servants, teachers, cops, and otherwise normal members of society who become viral sensations for going on emotional (and high-key bigoted) tirades on social media?
We laugh at these people and call them stupid, but often turn around and post similar tirades of our own without sensing the hypocrisy.
Next time you want to go off about politics, ask yourself this simple question: “Could this get me fired?”
If the answer is yes, call a friend and share the vent with them – minus the paper trail.
Gruesome police brutality & execution videos
Can we please stop normalizing the desecration of Black and brown bodies?
There are times when sharing gruesome imagery is a necessary evil, and then there are times when you’re just being a sheep and sharing sensational content to get likes.
Most of ya’ll fall in the second category without even meaning to.
“But Blue, we need to get these images out!”
True, but even though we all mock this word – “triggers” – are real. And, you could seriously be traumatizing someone on your timeline unnecessarily.
It is 100 percent possible to share stores about Stephon Clark, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, etc. without plastering their executions up on your wall on a Tuesday afternoon.
PTSD provoked by racial terror is real folks. What you consume leaves a mark. I’m gonna keep repeating that until it finally sinks in.
News stories you haven’t fact-checked
People will literally only read a headline and click “share” without even reading the article.
Be honest, we’ve all done it.
One time my friend posted a scandalous headline that received over 100 comments of heated debate – but when I clicked the link to read the story, there wasn’t one!
The page was apparently a prank to see how many people would share it with no content. And they proved their point.
No matter how salacious and fascinating a clever headline may be – always check your source. Otherwise you may be spreading propaganda (or just plain nonsense) to your trusting followers.
Also – this goes for death announcements as well.
Ya’ll post emotional “Rest in Peace” memorials to Ruby Dee and Lena Horne every year without realizing they both passed ages ago.
Inappropriate personal images
Confession: As a journalist, when a story breaks about an Average Joe whose made national news – the first thing I do is look up their social media accounts for background information and pictures.
And this is a very common practice.
Don’t post any pictures on social media you wouldn’t want plastered on the front page of your favorite news site fam.
Some of you make my job a little too easy. And I’m actually on your side. Imagine what would happen if Fox News or TMZ decided to investigate you instead?
We live in an age of political correctness where marginalized groups who have gone unnoticed are finally finding the voice and platform to demand a bit of dignity.
Some of ya’ll are annoyed you have to show these people the same level of respect you want for yourself (what a crazy request right?) – and others of you are self-aware enough to get it.
Are there fringe members of these group who take being offended too far and bristle at threats that aren’t really there? Sure. Extremism exists in all communities.
But is it worth jeopardizing your job, becoming a viral sensation for the wrong reasons, or losing the respect of your loved ones just to call them out in a humorous post?
I’ve been working in digital media since 2001 – and even in the stone ages my cronies and I all had one rule of thumb we lived by when posting things on the net:
“Don’t share anything online you wouldn’t want to share in a court of law.”
This mantra has saved me on more occasions than I can count. Which is why I inwardly cringe when I see people boasting in public forums about things that are flat out illegal.
Drove home drunk last night and feel blessed to be back in your bed?
Keep that to yourself.
Did your friends talk you into joining one of those, “blessing loom,” “put in $100 get $800 back” ponzi schemes over the holiday?
Well according to the FBI and the FTC that’s a federal crime – so you may wanna text privately about that too.
If something is blatantly on the wrong side of the law its best not to publicly confess it to thousands of strangers.
Even if it makes for a hilarious story.
Most people will see this item and wonder who would ever be silly enough to do something like this. But most times it happens without even realizing it.
If you’re sharing a picture of a package you just received with the shipping slip visible in the frame, taking a snap shot of your desk at work with your bills or credit card in plain sight, or even proudly posting your first big check from your new job with your routing number at the bottom – blacking out the check amount isn’t enough. There are still snippets of confidential data present in those pictures.
Confidential data that the wrong people could easily use for the wrong reasons.
Current location and Check-Ins
We all like to posts activities, flights, and vacation details online to keep in touch with our loved ones and share awesome moments. Thats sort of what makes social media so addictive.
But like with most things in life: timing is everything.
Don’t announce exactly when you’ll be on vacation in public spaces, check-in to restaurants and other fun locales AFTER you’ve already left, and whenever possible, share as little details about your whereabouts as possible.
There are countless news stories about folks who have been robbed while on vacation or tracked down by stalkers via their geotags to make this sobering reminder stick.
Sensitive Info About Children
Your kids, favorite godchildren etc are your pride and joy.
I get it.
But parents who overshare are exposing their babies to a ton of unnecessary attention that can sometimes leads to heartbreaking tragedy.
When possible, don’t share what school or daycare your child attends (even if it means not taking a selfie where the name can be seen in the background). Be mindful of mentioning things like how your eldest child watches their siblings when you and the hubby go on a date night. And as for pictures – discretion is your friend when it comes to those.
It breaks my heart to even have to say this, but even a sweet photo of your child during bath time could end up in the hands of some creep right out of a scene from Law & Order: SVU
Our children need protection especially in the virtual world.
The Whole ‘About’ Section on Facebook
Throw the whole section away!
Don’t give them your phone number, address, job location – none of it.
Sharing a birthday is fine (cause we all love getting shout outs on our special day) but refrain from telling them the year you were born. That last piece of info immediately opens you up to all types of identity theft.
According to my Facebook, I was born in 1905 and will be turning 113 at the end of April.
Don’t I look good for my age? LOL
Life Hack: Want to know if your Facebook information was breached by Cambridge Analytica? Well there’s an app for that!
Click here to check your status.
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric