When it comes to sharing with family and friends on social media, are you unknowingly putting yourself at risk? Even if you just use social media apps to stay connected to a small group of trusted loved ones, it’s all too easy to unknowingly overshare information about yourself or expose yourself to scams and hackers.

In our recent survey*, we found that more than half of people (52%) have their social media profiles set to “Public”.  One third of people surveyed set both their Facebook and Instagram profiles to public. This means anyone on the social platform can find and view their posts.

Given that so many people set their profiles to “Public” for the world to see their posts, it’s especially concerning that:

51% have shared vacation photos: Burglars are known to troll social media looking for proof that people are away from home. Wait until you’re home to share those beach selfies!

20% have shared pictures of their house or neighborhood: It’s easier than ever to figure out exactly where someone lives just based on contextual clues and photos they’ve shared of their house and surrounding areas.

25% have shared pictures of either their pets or their kids – and then used those names as passwords: Once the names of your children and pets are public information, it’s no longer safe to use those names as passwords. It’s all too easy for someone to try to guess your weak password and log in to your accounts (think, your online banking account) where they can steal sensitive information or money.

14% shared the routes of their runs online, including location data: Again, letting people know when you’re away from home could put you at risk of theft, or worse. Aside from cybersecurity concerns – it’s not a good idea to broadcast where you frequently run.

There are undoubtedly huge privacy and security implications of sharing so much information on social media – especially when setting a profile to “Public”. Your personal safety, property, and private data are all vulnerable when you overshare online.

Don’t put yourself or your loved ones at risk and use the following precautions when using social media.

Tips for sharing safely on social media

  • Check your privacy settings: The risk of sharing personal information on social media apps can be partially reduced by limiting who sees your posts. Always set your accounts to private, so that only approved friends can see your content.
  • Make every password strongA password generator is the easiest, quickest way to create passwords that are long and random. When every single account has a different password, you’ll prevent a data breach at one website from affecting all of your other accounts, too. A password manager will keep track of those hard-to-hack passwords for you.
  • Turn on 2FA for your social accounts: Adding more layers of protection will help slow down any would-be hackers. Two-factor authentication requires additional information – like a code or fingerprint – before access is granted. Most social media sites support 2FA, so be sure to enable it today.
  • Audit your friends list: Periodically review your connections and unfriend people you no longer keep in touch with. Keep an eye out for friends that may have been hacked or if they have duplicate profiles. If you see suspicious activity on their accounts let them know.

Social media is a great way to connect with friends and family – especially these days when we may not be able to see them in person. But it’s important to make sure you’re doing it safely and keeping your personal information away from the eyes of hackers.

*Survey conducted by Lab42 in March 2020 with respondents from Australia, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdon, United States and Singapore.