Oversharing on social media -- are you guilty?

We hear the complaints often that people are sharing far too many details of their lives on social media.
February 13, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
We hear the complaints often that people are sharing far too many details of their lives on social media. That can be a problem when what you post is seen by the wrong person, including potential bosses or even criminals.

We've all heard the term 'going viral,' used when posts are rapidly shared, retweeted and reposted.

Joseph Martinez stays connected through the big three social media sites -- Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He keeps his posts private, only giving trusted friends access to his pictures, check-ins and status updates, or so he thought. A search of Martinez's Facebook revealed he shares a lot of personal details -- details he thought were private.

"See, I didn't know it was open to where if we're not friends you can see it," said Martinez. "I just knew it would show some places like that, but only to the people I was friends with."

He was clearly stunned his Facebook settings are not protecting him.

Social media prankster Jack Vale makes light of social oversharing. In a YouTube video he pretends to know intimate details about complete strangers. Only to point out everything he knew he found in public posts.

Martinez added, "It's not just me that can see it, it's not just my friends, now more people can see it." The most concerning part of his Facebook fail, Martinez, like thousands of others in Central California, is looking for a new job.

Maryann Verdu at the Workforce Connection in Central Fresno says even the most innocent of pictures can disqualify you as a job candidate. "I think people that post to social media need to remember they're not violating your privacy," said Verdu. "That's public information and you made the decision of what information you put out there."

Even if you're not looking for work, oversharing can be risky and even damaging. "Would you go out and put a billboard up that says the Jones are going to be out of town and we live at 1414 Sycamore Lane, from this date to this date -- you wouldn't do that. But that's what you're doing with social media," said Tamyra Pierce, the director of Social Media at Fresno State. She says posting where you live, checking-in at your favorite hangout, or sharing questionable snap shots can bring unwanted attention from the wrong people.

Pierce said, "What we're seeing is an increase in identity theft."

Martinez is concerned for his safety and reputation. He'll now search for online protection, and that may come from sites like, secure.me. The site scans your Facebook profile for a variety of threats or weak points in your settings. It advises against posting family relationships, and even work history. And it keeps an eye on who is friending you and pictures that pop up on your wall.

"But now that I see this, it's kind of like, not so easy anymore," Martinez said. Because of this privacy risk, he'll be more vigilant about adjusting all of his settings.

"The best rule of thumb is to use caution at the extreme," Pierce advices. And to make sure the next time you click post, tweet or share -- remember anyone, anywhere can see it or even use it against you.

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