In 2016, Think Twice About What You Share On Social Media

02/09/2016 03:01 pm ET Updated Feb 08, 2017

Just about everyone today uses some form of social media. U.S. adults alone share nearly 2 trillion gigabytes of data online per year. That's a lot of sharing. As we enter the new year, it's a good time to reexamine your social media sharing habits, make sure you or your family members are not falling victim to some of the most common risks, and learn how to take action quickly.

Social Media Oversharing
Consumers are sharing more information online than ever before. With every post, check-in, like, swipe, and favorite, we are sharing our most precious information with the world. While most posts are harmless, social media oversharing can put you at risk for identity theft. Sometimes, this sharing is occuring unknowingly. That's why it is important to understand your privacy settings that control who can see your photos, status updates, social profile and more. Even seemingly innocuous information shared on social networking sites, like your mother's maiden name or high school mascot, can be useful to fraudsters to gain access to your online accounts.

Take action: Check your privacy settings across all platforms, and make sure to update them regularly. Also, use long and strong passwords, and always use a unique password for each social networking site.

While You Were Gone
What you post online can have serious repercussions in the real world. An empty house is enough to attract the attention of a burglar, and sharing your vacation plans (or even your dinner plans) let thieves know exactly when you're away from home and when to strike.

Take action: Use discretion when sharing your whereabouts. Sharing location details, like "checking in" at restaurants or sharing photos while on vacation, puts you at risk for identity theft or worse.

Getting A Bad Rap
Social media also poses a threat to our reputations. Careless posts and comments have resulted in lost jobs, relationships and opportunities. In this day and age, almost all hiring managers screen job applicants' social networking profiles during the hiring process, and this is also common practice for college admissions.

Take action: Remember that nothing can be erased from the Internet. Before hitting send on a tweet or post, make sure that it's the best representation of you, your family and your workplace. If possible, make sure that everything you post is appropriate for all audiences.

Cyberbullying
The Internet's anonymity is part of why cyberbullying has become so common. If you don't know, cyberbullying is a form of online harassment, and unfortunately young people are especially vunerable to this type of digital abuse. A 2012 report found that 81 percent of teens use social media, and about a quarter of all adolescents experience cyberbullying.

Take action: Start a conversation with your kids. Educate them on cyberbullying and what to do if it occurs. Some tips for all ages include only accepting friend requests from trusted friends and family members and being careful about what pictures and information are shared online. Additionally, save any and all evidence of cyberbullying. Many schools and states now have laws to protect victims.

Check Out This Offer! and Other Scams
Scams can take many forms on social media. It could be malicious tagging, where a friend tags you and ten other friends in a Facebook post that tells you to click on the link to see a mind-blowing video. Or, it could be a contest or giveaway that asks for personal information. All of these tactics prey upon users who let their guard down while browsing their social feeds.

Take action: Remain alert for suspicious activity on your social feeds. Think before you click! Reach out to your friends if you see something suspicious posted from their account. Refrain from sharing your personal information, and be mindful about clicking URLs and banner ads unless they are from a reputable source.

Want more help staying safe on social media? Inspired by the world's social tendencies and our commitment to protecting consumers, we at CSID recently launched a Social Media Monitoring service that alerts consumers when they are sharing personal information via social networking sites, which may expose PII and put them at risk for identity theft. It also alerts users to content found within their social network that may damage their reputation. By increasing our awareness and taking action, we can all stay one step ahead of social media threats.