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10 things you should never post on Facebook

These days, everyone is turning to Facebook to find out more about you: prospective employers, college admission officers, business partners; there has even been talk of insurers checking Facebook before issuing life policies to see if applicants indulge in risky behavior or partake in dangerous sports.

Even if you think you have your Facebook privacy settings nailed down, you can never know where your posts and photos will end up. You have no control over what your friends do with them, and it only takes a few ‘Likes’ for a post to be seen by hundreds of people you’ve never heard of.

And it’s about to get much worse. Facebook’s Timeline and Open Graph initiatives will mean that more apps and more web pages could have access to your Facebook page 24 hours a day. After that happens, literally nothing will be private.

There is only one sure-fire approach to staying out of trouble, and that’s not to post anything inappropriate or controversial in the first place. But what kind of posts are we talking about? What are the things that we post online that might come back to bite us?

Well, the list is almost endless, but we are just going to pick a few. If you have a Facebook account, then here is The Online Mom’s Top 10 list of things that are better left unsaid:

1. How much you hate your job
If there is anything guaranteed to quickly put you among the ranks of the unemployed, it’s complaining about your job – or your boss – on Facebook. Complaining about your job in this economic environment will be seen as ungrateful and disloyal, and it will not win you many friends inside or outside the office!

2. Embarrassing pictures of other people
It may seem like a good prank to post embarrassing pictures of other people on Facebook, but what might start out as a bit of fun can quickly go wrong if those pictures end up in the wrong hands. Your Facebook motto should be “do unto others what you would have them do unto me.” If you wouldn’t want those pictures of you circulating on the Internet, then be a good friend and leave them in the camera – or better still, just delete them!

3. Your birth year
Or your home address, or telephone number, or mother’s maiden name – or anything else that could be used to put your personal or financial security at risk. Sophisticated criminals need very little to steal a person’s identity and many trawl Facebook because that kind of information is so readily available.  Do yourself a favor and don’t post any personal information other than your name and birth date – without the year!

4. Strong political or religious opinions
Nobody’s saying you can’t have them, it’s just that very few people want to read them on Facebook. Plus, one-paragraph opinions on a social network can easily be taken out of context or misinterpreted. Why risk alienating friends or being labeled as insensitive or intolerant? Facebook activity should be kept friendly and light. Don’t post politically charged comments and don’t respond to other people that do.

5. Curse words
Again, all it takes is one slip and your reputation can be ruined. What may have seemed like a funny post during a night out with the boys can look awkward and offensive in the cold light of day. Don’t risk offending your colleagues, your friends, or your favorite aunt – keep it clean!

6. Other people’s big news
If your Facebook friends have big news to announce, let them do the announcing, not you. There is nothing worse than Dad jumping the gun and letting the whole world know that Junior got accepted into that north-eastern university, or Mom telling all her friends that she’s finally going to be a grandma. Let others control their own Timelines and make sure that they get to break their own big news.

7. Details of your vacation
Want to invite burglars to break into your house? Announce to everyone on Facebook that you’re going off on a two week cruise. The police and FBI can tell you that Facebook is increasingly used by criminals to identify potential victims, and not just for identity theft or cyber scams. You may be proud of your 500+ friend list, but with that many, there are bound to be a few bad apples. Letting everyone know that your house is going to be empty is an invitation to be robbed!

8. Posts intended to make others envious
We know you’re proud of your brand new Porsche, or that diamond necklace you got for your birthday, but some things are better kept to yourself. While there is nothing to be ashamed of in achieving goals and enjoying some good fortune, others might not be so lucky. It’s hard to put context around a Facebook post, and posts that constantly highlight the wonderful life you have can become a little grating, even for family and close friends. (Plus, you might not want to tell everyone about the recently-acquired 70-inch HDTV or fine artwork for other reasons – see 7 above.)

9. Drinking photos
Whether you are single and in college or happily married with 3 kids, you might want to tone it down on the drinking photos. While the odd picture of you and your golfing buddies enjoying a beer might be OK, a constant stream of photos showing you with a drink in your hand might lead people to think that, well, you constantly have a drink in your hand! And be especially careful if you are in college. Everyone knows about the weekend keggers but dozens of pictures of you with your boozy pals sends a poor message to everyone, including mom and dad!

10. TMI (Too much information)
Whatever you post, keep it appropriate and don’t include details that you don’t want the whole world to know about. If you would only tell a handful of close friends about the details of your annual check-up or what you found in your 15-year-old son’s room the other day, then it has no business on Facebook. When it comes to posting online, especially on Facebook, the less information the better!

Comment by J, posted 7/26/2012, 12:17 AM:

I don!t think 4,5,8,10 apply to twitter, so if you like writing those things, get a twitter account.
Comment by mrinal saha, posted 7/13/2012, 4:52 AM:

quite informative post ,i like the drinking part the most ...lol, for people looking for humor in this topic may try http://receivetipstricks.com/10-things-one-should-not-do-on-faceboo/
Comment by fbworkz, posted 6/24/2012, 9:26 PM:

better not make a facebook account if you will follow all those "things not to post on facebook" guide...
Comment by Erik Schwenke , posted 12/2/2011, 1:16 PM:

Good advice- I've read too many stories of teachers and other professionals losing their jobs over a photo of them enjoying drinks off the clock!
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