Do You Share Too Much Information Online?

Being online often, especially during the pandemic, means that it’s easier than ever to share, accidentally or on purpose, a lot of personal information about ourselves. Sometimes this can be done without even knowing it.

‘What’s the problem?’ you might ask? Celebrating your birthday, taking photos of moving to a new house or checking in at your local park with your pals are all things you want to celebrate and share with your friends on social media. But sometimes, you might give away more information than you mean to or are aware of. Oversharing online can put you at risk of fraud and identity thieves and hackers can use that information to gather what they need to study you or steal your identity.

study in 2018 by Nationwide Building society found that 83% of people aged 16-25 know someone who puts personal information online. Is that you?

Check out these top tips for making sure you’re not sharing too much information online.

Think before you post

Whether it’s your address, date of birth, phone number or full name – any personal information that you share online makes it easier for identity thieves and hackers to gather all the information they need about you.

It’s very easy to do this by accident. Take a look at these examples and see if any sound familiar:

  • You have done an online shopping haul and uploaded a video to social media to show off your new clothes. At the same time, you’ve accidentally shared your full address.
  • You’ve just passed your driving test and got your driving licence through in the post and shared it on Snapchat. That has your date of birth and full address on it…
  • Maybe your username includes your year of birth? And you posted a picture on your birthday last year. Together, this would mean it’s easier to work out your birthday and your age.
  • Or perhaps you’ve posted a picture of your pet, that is in fact your password (did you know that 15% of the UK population use their pets name as their password?)? The National Cyber Security Centre advise using three random words for your password, find out more about how to set a secure password.

Take some time to think about how much personal information you share online and remember to think before your post!

Review your privacy settings 

There are different privacy settings on different social media platforms, so it’s important to be familiar with what it means on different platforms. Some platforms, when you sign up, default to public which means that anyone can see what you’re posting. One of the best ways to make sure you don’t overshare is to set your account to private. 

If you’ve set up your account to be private, remember to think about who you’re accepting as a friend or letting follow you. It’s a good idea to review this every now and then and remove people that you haven’t spoken to or are connected to in a long time.  

Social media privacy settings change all the time. Therefore, it’s important to check the privacy settings on a regular basis and make sure you’re happy with how your account is set up.  

Top Tip: Set a monthly calendar reminder so you don’t forget!  

Turn off location-based apps 

Many social media apps use location settings which means they know where you are. It can make it easy to check-in somewhere when you’re out and about. However, it also means that it’s easy to build up a picture of how you spend your time.

Do you post part of your daily routine on your stories? Gym in the morning? Then work? Play some sport? Catch up with mates afterwards? Or maybe you post pics of your holiday when you’re away?

It means it’s easy for people to know where you are, but also where you aren’t – at home. That doesn’t mean don’t post pictures, but you might not want to post them publicly if your profile isn’t private or you might want to wait until you’re home.

Search for yourself online  

You can see what other people might find out about you by searching for yourself in a search engine and see what comes up.

You might be surprised at just how much information about you is public.

Find out more about keeping safe online on our DigiKnow? page.