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Sharing less is more on social media sites

Viewpoints Editor

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 00:01

Misti Jones | The Houstonian

Misti Jones | The Houstonian

The Internet has become too personal and it’s not social media’s fault. It’s the users’.

Social media users have found it necessary to post anything and everything they think 500 of their closest friends should know about their daily lives. What many people have truly failed to realize are the repercussions that can come from posting too much information on a public website.

Sharing too much personal information on a social media site can become problematic for many reasons. First, certain wall posts, statuses, videos, images and events can reveal certain aspects of your life that may affect your future success. The words and images posted on the Internet may be available for years and your social media profiles may be viewed by future employers, school officials, company competitors, police, and even spammers, stalkers and identity thieves and burglars.

Many employers and school officials are searching profiles of prospective students and employees, searching for dirt. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 37 percent of hiring managers use social networking sites to research job applicants. Inappropriate posts can unveil information to administration that may prevent you from being hired or accepted -- not to mention what your friends, friends-of-friends and family think of your posts.

“I don’t think students realize the magnitude of a recent trend, that of companies hiring someone to look into a potential new hire’s Facebook account,” Dean of Students John Yarabeck said. “For someone who knows what they are doing, they can access your account even if you have it set on private. Then questionable posts you may have made even years ago could potentially cost you a great job. Once it is on the Internet, it is there forever.”

Even thieves can discover account numbers, passwords, telephone numbers, addresses and more information about a user when the users carelessly upload personal data or their whereabouts via Internet.

Many young social media users have no problem posting images of them consuming large amounts of alcohol whether they are of legal age to drink or not. Some even post images of drugs and paraphernalia and show themselves using the drug. Sometimes there are even posts or events that are made that threaten individuals or give away recent criminal activity, which brings us to point number two.

It has become a more common practice for police officers to use social media to track down criminals as well. Peter Nowak, writer for MSN Tech & Gadgets, wrote in an article that social media sites such as Facebook are now playing an increasingly larger role in the apprehension of people breaking laws.

Police across the globe have figured out ways to use Facebook and other social networking sites to snub law breakers.Huffington Post wrote an article in August 2011 explaining 13 instances where Facebook users were arrested due to subject matter and images that were posted on the site and gave away criminal activity. Of the recorded arrests, many included unintentional confessions of burglary, underage relationships, kidnappings or murders, photos of strangled victims, threatening comments against school or public officials and even cyber stalking. Other arrests included underage drinking and possession of large amount of drugs.

Remember, sharing less means more. Keep your posts clean. Images and words that are uploaded to the Internet never really go away; they’re available for years and can be viewed by anyone who chooses to view them. What you think is something innocently shared to random ‘friends’ can end up costing you your future. 

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