Once upon a time, there was a world without social media. When people used to share personal information over email or phone, and if you had to share something publicly, you would have to get it printed in a newspaper. Your innermost thoughts were limited to your close friends and family. And the chances of your boss coming across your rant about your hateful ex-boyfriend were few.

Then came the Age of Social Media, with a dreaded, shape-shifting villain – the Privacy Policy. And the line between Public and Private was blurred forever. Today, every media platform has its own policies with multiple settings which change faster than your profile pictures.

So now, how on Earth are you supposed to keep track of what is visible to all and what is for your eyes only? Well, you don’t have to, if you follow these simple rules about what you don’t share online.

Your Number

 Your mobile number is no longer just a way for people to reach you. It unlocks your bank, government, and social media accounts. It also gives access to the spammer tribe to attack you with a zillion messages. It definitely doesn’t belong in the comments section of a post, or in your online profile. Posting it in such public forums is the digital equivalent of writing it on the walls of a local train. You wouldn’t do that, would you? So, if you need to share your number with someone, do it over email or in a direct message.

Your Schedule

It’s tempting to show off online when you are at a swanky restaurant or a gorgeous beach, but do you have to do it immediately? By posting that you’re away, you’re letting any thieves scouting out your place know that ‘now is a good time’ (yes, thieves also have Facebook accounts; everyone does!). If you must brag, please do so when you’re back- so you will not be making life easy for robbers and stalkers.

Nude Pictures

Or revealing pictures. Or any pictures that you don’t want your grandma or boss to see. The Internet works in mysterious ways and images have a way of coming back to haunt you, at places you least expect them. So, share personal photos directly and use social media for public images only.

Your Address

 If you’ve posted your address on your blog or an online invite, you may have every creep, stalker, and robber who comes across it land up at your door. To keep them at bay, stick to this rule: give your address out on a strict need-to-know basis.

Anything you don’t want Employers to find

 If you’ve never Googled your name, take a bow, but please do so now. You will be amazed at what turns up. Now, imagine your prospective employers doing the same thing– seeing your hate comments against some group or religion or your “you will burn in hell” tweets following your breakup. Makes your heart sink a little, doesn’t it? Well, if you aren’t already aware of it, this is a common practice when hiring people these days. So, keep your personal and professional frustrations private. You’ll thank yourself later.

Your full Date of Birth

Not because women’s ages should be a secret, but because this is vital information for anyone trying to hack into your account, whether it is a cybercriminal many proxy servers away or your disgruntled ex, seeking revenge for your online rant. Keep the mundane details of your life – the year of birth, middle name, grandparents’ names – to yourself.

Remember, there’s a reason that “oversharing” is a word but “undersharing” isn’t. Too much information online can get you into trouble, but too little information rarely will.

By Sweta Vinod

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