The Dangers of Facebook Oversharing

Protect your identity online

How much is too much information when it comes to sharing on Facebook? Oversharing can become a personal safety risk. Some people—thieves, lawyers, and stalkers—like oversharing. Others, such as employers, don't. Here are some of the dangers you need to be aware of before you make your next Facebook post.

Stalkers Love Oversharing

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Photo: Peter Dazeley / Getty

Your Facebook timeline is like a scrapbook for stalkers. The timeline provides an easy interface where your friends and— depending on your privacy settings—anyone else in the world gets quick access to all the things you've ever posted on Facebook. It also provides access to your profile and your personal information, which potentially includes your workplace, current city, relationship status, and phone number. Nearly every aspect of your life is potentially on display for stalkers.

It's best to limit sharing your location on Facebook as much as possible or to not share it at all. Use Facebook's privacy settings to close down the public's ability to see your timeline and profile information. Use Facebook friends lists to organize your contacts on the social network. Create a list of your most trusted friends and set your privacy settings to give them more access. Limited access to acquaintances who might end up being stalkers.

Thieves Love Oversharing

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The easiest way to make yourself a target for thieves is to share your location information on Facebook. When you "check-in" at the local gym, any thief who's trolling Facebook profiles learns you're not at home and it's a great time to rob you.

You may have restricted your privacy settings on Facebook to just friends, but what if a friend is logged in to a publicly accessible computer, such as at a library, and forgets to log out or has their cellphone stolen? You can't guarantee that your friends are the only ones who have access to your status and location just because your privacy settings are set to friends only.

Some Facebook apps that share your location may have more relaxed privacy settings than you're comfortable with and they might be blabbing your location without you realizing it. Check your privacy settings and also check to see what information your Facebook apps are sharing with your friends and the rest of the world. Limit them as much as possible to protect your privacy and personal safety. Never post that you're home alone.

Lawyers Love Oversharing

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Anything a lawyer learns about you on Facebook can and may be used against you in a court of law. Lawyers love Facebook because it helps establish a person's character and where and when something took place. Facebook does a lot of legwork that a private investigator normally has to do, such as learning who a person associates with.

If you're in the middle of a custody battle, posting pictures on Facebook of yourself getting tanked at a party could help your ex-spouse win the case against you. Facebook postings often reflect our moods. A ranting status post might cause you to be labeled as aggressive or abusive by a lawyer who's making a case against you.

If you're tagged in a picture that might be considered inappropriate, you can untag yourself so the picture isn't associated with your profile. Even if you remove a post after it appears, though, it might have been caught in a screenshot or sent in an email notification. There are no guaranteed takebacks on Facebook, so always think before you post.

Employers Hate Oversharing

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Your employer is probably not a huge fan of oversharing. Whether you're at work or not, your actions can affect your company's image, especially since most people put where they work on their Facebook profile.

If you make negative comments about your employer or share privileged information, you can harm the company. If your employer reviews Facebook activity and sees you make posts while you're supposed to be working, this information could be used against you at some point. If you call in and say you're sick and then your Facebook location says you're checking in at the local movie theater, your employer can figure out that you're playing hooky.

Potential employers might request a look at your Facebook profile to learn more about you. Consider reviewing your Timeline to see if there's anything that might cause them not to hire you before you give permission.

Worried about your friends posting something stupid on your wall or tagging you in an unflattering picture that might affect a potential job offer? Turn on the Tag Review and Post Review features so you can decide what's posted about you before it goes live.

There are some things you should never post on Facebook. Use your best judgment and take responsibility for what you post about yourself and others.