Do College Students Give TMI on Social Networks?

I have the pleasure of speaking to a lot of college students about their social networks and social media profiles. Most College students love social media and love sharing information on social networks, but how much is too much? Could you be putting yourself at risk by sharing too much information in social media?

In a recent presentation that I gave about over-sharing on social networks I talked to students about the potential risks of sharing TMI (too much information) online.  I am pretty active on social media sites, and I have definitely over-shared, so it is important to remember that there are risks associated with the information that you share online.  As a social media consultant I love the power and excitement of social media sites, but there are some risks to consider when posting information on the internet.

Here are a few of the risks to consider.

1) Identity Theft

Never share account numbers, your social security number or even pictures of your drivers license. Think carefully about how much information you share. Try to avoid posting your address online (even on your Facebook page) as it could lead to identity theft.

2) Robberies

Seriously. With location sharing sites like Foursquare and Facebook Places people are sharing a lot more about their location and whereabouts. A site launched called Please Rob Me ( to draw attention to this issue. It highlighted people who shared when they were leaving their home. There have been a number of incidents reported involving robberies because of information posted on social networks.

3) Stalking

OK, so this sounds dramatic, but I have had friends who were actually stalked by people based on information that they posted on Twitter. Be careful when you post your whereabouts or other information – especially if you may have admirers 😉

4) Talking about Your Work

Many work places have codes of conduct about what you can and can’t say about your workplace. A waitress was fired for posting on her private facebook wall about a customer leaving a bad tip. Regardless of where you work, be careful about posting anything about customers, suppliers or co-workers as it could land you in hot water.

5) Slander and Bullying

There is a HUGE rise in slander and bullying online. It is easier to say bad things about people online than it is in person. The problem is that it lives on the web forever. Be careful about what you post about other people online. There have been examples of students getting expelled from school because of what they posted about teachers or other students.

6) Your Future

Whenever you post something on the internet, think about the potential implications that it may have for you down the road. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Could your posts online come back to haunt you? Could they prevent you from getting a job? Could they create a bad impression of you? What about the things that your friends post? Be sure to set clear expectations with your friends about what you do and don’t want online.

7) Remember, Everyone is Watching

Even a post that doesn’t specifically say WHO you are talking about could be seen by the person and understood. A famous example of this was a girl who had a job offer from Cisco who tweeted about her job offer and said that she had to decide between a big paycheck and a job she would hate. Cisco saw the post and rescinded the job offer. Always remember that everyone is watchin.

Are there other risks or stories about social media gone wrong that you have seen?

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