Majority of social network users share too much

too much info revealed onlineOversharing personal information is bad, whether in line for the train, at lunch with co-workers, and especially online. Most of us have a little voice in our heads that tell us when it's time to shut up during a conversation but for many social networkers that little voice fails to tell them what information to share and what to keep private.

Consumer Reports
surveyed 2,000 households and found that 52% are posting some form of personal information online that falls under risky social media behavior.

In this case we aren't talking about TMI issues like your last trip to the restroom, but more important oversharing violations like giving away their full birth date, photos of children, children's names, home street addresses and posting about being away from home.

The survey also revealed that 9% of the social network users were victims of some form of fraud or abuse in the past year ranging from malware to identity theft. Consumer Reports estimates that consumers have spent close to $4.5 billion in the last two years dealing with cyber crime and replacing 2.1 million computers that malware had corrupted.

In response to the unsafe oversharing of personal information, Consumer Reports has come up with Seven things to stop doing on Facebook now.
  1. Using a weak password -- Given the number of places Facebook connects to and the wealth of information about you on it, there's no reason not to use a strong password with a mix of capital letters and numbers.
  2. Listing a full birthdate -- Putting your full birthday online is opening yourself up to identity thieves who can use it to open accounts and possibly guess your SSN.
  3. Overlooking useful privacy controls -- There have been many changes to how your personal info can be used, check out this guide to keep your personal information private on Facebook.
  4. Posting a child's name in captions -- You simply don't need to share this information.
  5. Mentioning being away from home -- Telling the world you are going on vacation, and giving specific dates, is as bad as letting your mail and newspapers pile up.
  6. Being found by a search engine -- Turning off this options decreases the likelihood that strangers will find you.
  7. Permitting youngster to use Facebook -- If your child is on Facebook you should be monitoring what they are doing so that they don't spend $1,375 on Farmville or get in touch with the wrong people.
Not every social network user will agree with all of these warnings, and that's OK. If you are comfortable sharing your location on Facebook or with a service like FourSquare or Gowalla and make that decision on your own, that's fine. Same goes with sharing pictures of children on Facebook, which many of my friends and family members do.

Ultimately Consumer Reports and other groups aren't trying to control what we do on Facebook and social networking sites, simply trying to make sure all consumers can make educated decisions about what they want to share. In order to make smarter decisions about what you share online at Facebook and other sites you should check out the EFF's Facebook to English translator that describes Facebook terms in easy to understand plain English.
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