It is important to be careful with the photos you share online. Surf the Internet safely by avoiding the following mistakes.
#1 Your boarding pass
Announcing your upcoming trip online may seem inconsequential, but posting your boarding pass could be. Your friends already know your name and maybe even your destination. But according to Brian Krebs, author and founder of Krebsonsecurity.com – investigative journalism in cybercrime and computer security – other personal information could put your safety at risk. However, we can outsmart the crooks!
A social media posting could compromise the privacy of your loyalty card and PNR. A willing hacker can gain access to your mileage accumulation, phone number, date of birth and even passport data. And by targeting your reservation number, he’ll get the precise details of your trip. Knowing that the house is empty, burglars could make a run for it.
#2 A picture of your check
A picture of a paycheck, credit card or wad of cash is just good for getting you into trouble. In addition to being in poor taste, it can only increase your risk of being mugged. Also, avoid any photo (or caption) that might reveal personal financial information such as the name of your bank.
#3 A winning lottery ticket
Were you lucky enough to win the lottery? Be smart enough not to brag about it. Spreading a lottery ticket is not really a big deal when it’s a small amount. But if a criminal decides to go to the trouble, he or she could reproduce the barcode key and steal your winnings.
#4 Confidential work emails
It’s a good rule of thumb: it’s best to avoid communicating about your work on social media, especially regarding confidential material.
In the U.S., the National Labor Relations Act protects employees under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution: they have the right to speak freely about their work (even when it is negative). But there are limits. If you receive an enthusiastic email from your company outlining its new goals or branding strategy, the last thing you want to do is put the competition on notice. Airing your grievances or posting venting photos between colleagues is no better. It’s a good way to lose your job.
#5 A birth certificate
Showing identification on social media is tantamount to losing ownership or outright giving it away to the public. Sharing a picture of your adorable newborn’s birth certificate may seem like a good way to announce this happy event, but it also opens the door to identity theft. A birth certificate is the key piece of identification that allows you to obtain a social security card, passport and driver’s license. Once a stranger has taken possession of it, it becomes almost impossible to prevent fraud.
#6 Non-copyrighted works
Are you proud of your literary talents? But it’s not wise to put your poems or your most recent writing online, especially if you intend to publish it or use it in a contest. The theft of your unique work can lead to endless copyright controversy. And even if your prose has only sentimental value and isn’t aimed at a literary award, just by posting it online, anyone can copy and paste it and make it their own.
Keep all your important writing to yourself until you have registered a copyright. Your fans will be more than happy to buy a copy from you… instead of copying you.
#7 Children (not your own)
Posting pictures of smiling children online may seem harmless, but think twice before posting pictures of underage children on social networks. According to Lawyers.com, the laws surrounding photos and videos of children are constantly changing. Want to use photos from a recent family picnic to promote your business? In the U.S., the Children Online Privacy Protection Act passed in 1998 must be considered, and regulations on mentioning a child’s name, school or location can vary from state to state.
For example, since 2012, Georgia and New Jersey have passed laws prohibiting anyone except parents from taking pictures of minors. In Canada, the federal government as well as the governments of each province have their own privacy laws.
Posting pictures of other people’s children online is part of the behavior that makes you a hateful neighbor.
#8 Memories of a drunken night
As a general rule, you should never post anything that a potential employer shouldn’t see… According to Inc.com, while a photo of you holding a beer may not be too big of a deal, repeated photos showing you clearly inebriated don’t make a good first impression.
This alone can ruin your chances of getting a new job. What employers absolutely will not tolerate are photos or mentions of illegal drugs and racial slurs. According to TIME, if your current company feels that this behavior is damaging to their own reputation, you can be fired.
#9 News from others
Your sister just called to tell you she’s pregnant, and in the excitement, you start writing a carefully composed post about how happy you are for her and how much you can’t wait to be an aunt, complete with the ultrasound photo your sister sent you. Don’t publish it. An announcement that doesn’t directly concern you, especially if it’s life-changing – like an engagement or pregnancy – doesn’t belong to you.
Wait for the people involved to make it official online before posting congratulations. If no message is posted, don’t assume they simply forgot to make one. There is probably a personal (or even legal) reason why they are not posting the news online.
#10 Someone else’s photos
In addition, you may be held liable for copyright infringement if you post photos that are not yours without consent. This could result in you paying damages or facing a lawsuit, depending on the nature of the photo.