Internet Social Media

Some Things Should Remain Private: What Not To Share On Facebook

Yaara Lancet 04-03-2013

what not to share on facebookAh, Facebook. The grandfather of all social networks, where we all share all sorts of weird things without a second thought. Despite its horrible reputation when it comes to privacy, Facebook still manages to lull us into a comfortable and safe feeling, in which many of us forget ourselves, the world, and the fact that absolutely anyone can see what we post on Facebook.


What is it about Facebook that makes it so easy to forget? Ask anyone on the street if they like Facebook, and most people will answer in a resounding “no”. They’re tired of the frequent interface changes, they don’t like Mark Zuckerberg, and they absolutely hate how it hurts their privacy. No sooner had they said that, will they be posting something private on Facebook without giving a second thought. And it’s not only “they” that do that. We all make these mistakes, at least from time to time.

Although it should be pretty obvious by now what you should or should not share on Facebook, it never hurts to refresh your memory. Perhaps you’ve forgotten yourself again in the heat of the moment, or haven’t quite decided what you want your Facebook account to be about. It’s time to clean up your act. Follow the tips below, and make sure you’re not putting your privacy, job, and security in danger.

Decide: Is Your Facebook Private Or Professional?

what not to share on facebook

This is a very important decision to make, and one you should take the time to think about. Is your Facebook account a place to stay updated with friends and family, or is it a professional account you want prospect bosses to see, and use to interact with colleagues about work? Unless you’re going to be extremely careful about it, your private life and professional life is going to clash.

It doesn’t even have to be something obvious like complaining about your work or boss and having it reach the wrong eyes. It can also be sharing inappropriate links or photos of yourself, and having them wind up in the wrong places. In his article about why you shouldn’t integrate Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn Why You Shouldn't Integrate Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn Social networking is a huge part of the Internet, providing the means for us all to connect and communicate quickly and easily. There are both positive and negative aspects to the very act of social... Read More , Dave tells all about why you shouldn’t connect all your social accounts, especially if they’re used for different purposes. Nevertheless, many of us do that, and have inappropriate links from Facebook wind up on LinkedIn. Awkward.

Since Facebook is geared into sharing with friends, the best thing to do is to keep work-related things away from it as much as possible. There are other networks for that. If you must use your Facebook account for work-related things, or show it at a job interview, make sure to clean it up Clean Up Your Facebook Account Before You Go Looking For Work By now we’re all aware that it’s important to be professional online, that employers have the ability to do background checks based through our social media accounts. And also that many people, though they know... Read More first and make it more professional.

Anything Work Related (Unless It’s Positive)

This is an extension of the previous point, but its worth reiterating. Do NOT use your Facebook account to complain about your work, your salary, your boss, or even things such as the long drive to work, how tired you feel while in the office, or how you’d rather not get up from bed today.

Are you supposed to be at work from 9 to 5? Posting five status updates and 4 photos during that time might not be the brightest idea, especially if you have colleagues (not to mention bosses) in your friends list. People tend to forget this, but other people can see when you posted things.

do not share on facebook

If you must share something about work, you can share interesting job openings, share your actual work, if possible, and even tell your friends how much you like your job. Don’t go to far with that one, though, or it might start to look weird.

I Have A Job Interview/Date/Ultrasound Tomorrow!!!!!!

do not share on facebook

Exciting things are fun to share. When something exciting is going to happen, you want the world to know, even if it’s against your better judgment. Think twice (or more, if necessary) before posting anything of this nature. Is this exciting thing going to happen for sure? Is the outcome necessarily positive? Does everyone really need to know about this right now?

Being disappointed is bad enough as it is without having to share your disappointment with the world and explain why it happened. Some job interviews and dates don’t go that well, and you might not want to share that you’re pregnant before you’re 100% sure everything is going to be OK. In addition, not everyone on your friends list should know about these things. Your workplace might not appreciate you having a job interview tomorrow, for example. Use your common sense to figure out the rest.

Don’t Make It Too Easy To Break Into Your Home

do not share on facebook

Your Facebook profile and account might be hidden from the public (as they should be), but this doesn’t mean information can’t get out. No matter who is supposed to see it, you shouldn’t share information that can put your security at risk. And this is surprisingly easy to do.

Did you share your full address on Facebook? Everyone knows where you live. Did you just check-in with Foursquare into the mall? Did you just share that you’re going on a week long vacation? Now everyone knows your house is going to be empty or is empty right now. No matter how you look at it, this is not good. It might sound paranoid, but better safe than sorry.

Don’t Make It Too Easy To Break Into Your Account

This follows the same idea as the previous point. Don’t ever underestimate people’s ability to connect the dots, when they really want to. Do you use your child’s or dog’s name as your password? Well, you shouldn’t, but if you do anyway, it’s not as hard for people to guess as you might think. If you’ve share password hints on Facebook, or even the passwords themselves in the form of names or dates, don’t be surprised if someone manages to put 2 and 2 together.

Full Birth Date & Location

things you shouldn't share on facebook

This is a no-brainer, but some people still forget about this. Sharing your full birth date and place on Facebook can lead to privacy breaches, and in extreme cases, even identity theft. I’m not saying you should become super paranoid about everything, but this kind of information does not belong on the Web, where anyone at all can see it. If you’d like to get birthday wishes on Facebook, a day and a month are enough, a year is not necessary.

Be Graph Search Ready

Have you heard of Graph Search Cool Things To Search For With Graph Search [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook Graph Search recently made a huge splash on the search scene, allowing all Facebook users to mine data that is either public or visible to them via their friends. The result is that regular... Read More ? Despite the uproar it created, Facebook’s new search finds nothing you didn’t put there yourself. So don’t click like on inappropriate things or things you don’t really like. Don’t add random things to your hobbies as a joke. Don’t add life events that never happened. These things can backfire badly with Graph Search.

To get a better understanding of this, check out Angela’s tips on preparing your account privacy for Graph Search Prepare Your Account Privacy For Facebook Graph Search [Weekly Facebook Tips] Every time Facebook releases a new feature to learn more about our friends, many people realise that their privacy settings are not adequate anymore. Their latest new feature, Facebook Graph Search, is no exception -... Read More .

The (Should Be) Obvious: Anything You Don’t Want The World To See

There are many more things one should never share on Facebook, and they all fall under this heading. You must get it into your head that anything you share on Facebook can be seen by anyone. Your privacy settings How To Hide Your Personal Information On Facebook In the age of the Internet, privacy is a luxury and you have to constantly be on your heels to maintain it. Facebook makes it particularly hard for users to guard their personal data. Despite... Read More , while extremely important, will not save you from embarrassments every time. Don’t post photos if someone should not see them. Don’t say where you are if someone shouldn’t know. Don’t post photos of your child with their full name. Don’t complain or gossip. And for crying out loud, don’t talk negatively about your significant other, even if they don’t have a Facebook account.

what not to share on facebook

Facebook can be great for keeping up with friends and family, but it can easily become a potential trouble source if you go too far. Keep it simple and fun!

Need more tips? Here are 5 more things you should not be posting Facebook 5 Things You Need to Stop Posting on Facebook We've discussed things that annoy Dave on Twitter, and we've even talked about how you may have compromised your security on the Internet. However, it seems as if Facebook brings both of those topics together.... Read More , and 7 things you should be posting on Facebook 7 Things You Should Be Posting On Facebook [Opinion] On one of my last articles, 5 Things You Need To Stop Posting On Facebook, I received a comment from a certain Smumdax that basically begged the question, "Well. What should we post on Facebook?"So... Read More . You can also take your knowledge to the next level with our free Facebook privacy guide The Complete Facebook Privacy Guide Privacy on Facebook is a complex beast. Many important settings are hidden out of sight. Here's a complete look at every Facebook privacy setting you need to know about. Read More .

Do you have tips of your own? Is there something that should NEVER be posted to Facebook I didn’t mention? Did sharing on Facebook ever backfire on you? Share in the comments below.

Image credit: Business people image via Shutterstock, Do Not red sign image via Shutterstock

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  1. Patricia Silvia
    June 18, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    I enjoy Facebook but was devastated when I could no matter what I did that my Facebook page on my new phone. I pack a book and all the contents in it including my phone was stolen. It was very frustrating so I had no choice but to start a new page. Not even the phone store could figure it out so if you don’t keep real clear notes you’ll never get back on your page. So now I have this previous page just out there and can’t even be canceled

  2. Edward Bellair
    March 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Good advice. Some people should get a filter for their fingers tho. Not everything you think, do or feel needs to be aired.

  3. powellchris42
    March 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Great Information !!!

    Chris Powell
    Daily Deal Builder

  4. Jaack
    March 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

    What would you tell some one in prison who is getting out tomorrow?
    Most seem no-brainers. Some people are so naive.

    BTW the Spam check: Do you speak English? (yes or no) Sometimes isn't allowed. No sense of humor

  5. Babs
    March 6, 2013 at 12:02 am

    I don't use my real name on FB. Just my first name.

  6. Dee Wheat
    March 5, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    I would strongly advise that one keep ANYTHING regarding their employment off Facebook, including whether they like their job or not. A friend of mine went to work at a school near her home, working as a classroom aide in a special ed class. She absolutely loved her job, and while she often posted that she loved it, she was very careful not to ever give out any specific info of ANY kind that could identify a student, not names, not behavioral issues, nothing. A co-worker got mad at her, and filed a complaint with allegations that she had spoken of her charges inappropriately, and she was automatically suspended and then terminated. The charges were found to be unfounded, but she still had been humiliated and fired.

    • yaara
      March 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      That's crazy! Is it even legal to fire someone just because some bogus allegations? Don't they have to prove them first?

      • dragonmouth
        March 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm

        When it comes to children, the "authorities" err on the side of caution. The attitude is that one is presumed guilty until proven innocent. Even after allegations are proven false, the attitude remains "the person is guilty, we just have not proven it YET!". Google "McMartin Preschool" and/or "Wenatchee Child Abuse" it will show you how demented people can get when it comes to kids.

  7. Julie Crompton
    March 5, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    My tip is to refrain from arguing on facebook. I even use to filter the political posts & I wish someone would come up with a filter for sports posts.

    • yaara
      March 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      That's excellent advice. I do it too. My news feed is full of arguments about politics and religion, I never ever engage in those. I don't see the point.

      • Daniel Escasa
        March 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm

        True. However, I do feel I have an obligation to correct errors of fact. For instance, someone said that senior citizens (in the Philippines) are entitled, in addition to the 20% senior citizen discount, exemption from the 12% Value-Added Tax (VAT) and that therefore the total discount on a bill should be 32%. That was simply wrong advice which would've caused embarrassing moments at retail establishments and restaurants arguing the discount.

  8. Bryan Trautloff
    March 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Good info. What about having separate personal and professional facebook identities? Some thoughts on that? Should we create a "page" for professional uses and lock down the privacy on the personal account? or separate profiles?

    • yaara
      March 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Facebook doesn't really like "fake" profiles, and could be all over you if you create two profiles under the same name, or a profile with a fake name. But it can be done, I guess. A Page for a person would be weird, I think, it's really meant for companies.

    • Donna Carruthers
      March 8, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      I just finished an fantastic online recertification course called Facebook for Educators. It was one of the best courses I've ever taken. Instead of setting up a separate account for school, we set up Facebook groups, because you have more control over the privacy settings than you do with a page.

  9. Gary Mundy
    March 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Put nothing on facebook. Problem solved.

    Or follow these tips if you just have to post something.

  10. tkj tkj
    March 5, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Your 'news' email of today 3/5/2013 contained many important points.

    However, one issue you discussed was seriously 'understated' .. ie: the importanct of NOT providing one's "full birthdate and place" . Very few people are aware of a very important fact: it is a trivial matter to fully identify aNY person here in USA simply by knowing his/her birthdate.
    'Location' is immaterial. It's the very first thing that prying minds try to obtain: and they get it more often than not!
    This is true mainly because so few people know of this issue .. they only rarely lie (or better 'modify in the name of personal safety' their DOB .. contrary to SocSec numbers etc , which are commonly not factual. "Besides, it's nice to be remembered on one's Bday!" seems all-too common a thought that opens doors to tremendously serious vulnerabilities ..
    This matter is sO important that it'd be so appreciated by many were you in your next issue (and even in a modification of today's announcements!) change the wording and add the cautions that I'm recommending.

    Thanks for a very good service!

    • Yaara Lancet
      March 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks for the advice! Keeping your full birth date off the Web as much as possible is definitely important.

      • Daniel Escasa
        March 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm

        I've totally hidden my birthday in FB. I was getting a ton of birthday greetings from people I barely knew, and from some whom I didn't remember at all. I thought the greetings were artificial so anyone who wants to greet me on my birthday has to know it :) -- which means that they're really friends.

        • Yaara Lancet
          March 8, 2013 at 5:35 am

          Another options is to not add people you barely know or remember to your Facebook. This is what i try to do, I just don't authorize people I don't actually know, or knew in the past well enough to authorize. If I feel I barely remember someone on the list, I just unfriend.

          But your method is good too. :)

  11. Adrianne Machina
    March 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    I'd also add: Don't post other people's news - cancer, babies, marriage, divorce, etc. I'm always shocked when people don't have the common sense to let the person with the "big life change" to decide whether they want to do their own announcing or keep their privacy.

    • Yaara Lancet
      March 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      I've never seen anyone do that! That's crazy...

    • Daniel Escasa
      March 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Yup. I think, though, that users should also be careful about which groups they allow to see a status update. I seem to remember a status from a friend that I wanted to share, then I got a warning about the status being sent to a limited group, and I should take that into account. I heeded the warning. This was sometime early last year, or late the year before that. Dunno if FB has removed that warning.

  12. Lisa Edwards
    March 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Facemandments is what I call them... personal pet peeves include seductive selfies and posting "vague" rants about *someone's* behavior but everyone knows exactly who they are talking about. If you have an issue with someone or what they might have posted (this happens with political or religious postings a lot) - question them directly by either engaging in a lively public debate on the post itself or messaging them privately if you can't "argue" constructively.

    My favorite quote "Opinions are like a$$holes - everyone has one" If you're going to share yours be prepared for feedback - both good and bad but handle it objectively or you will end up losing maybe a good friend over an unnecessary escalation online.

    • yaara
      March 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      Oh yeah, vague status updates are super annoying. Either come out and say what you want to say, or don't post it on Facebook at all!

    • Daniel Escasa
      March 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      Is that the same as “vagueboarding”?

    • Daniel Escasa
      March 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      Is that the same as “vagueboarding”?

  13. Deborah R Lemon
    March 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Some great advice. Also Facebook provides really good security settings to determine who sees what. I use lists to control my content, and I set attempts to post to my timeline as subject to my review.
    But I don't have my FB, LinkedIn, Twitter and other accounts linked.

  14. bben
    March 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    In one of my very first computer science classes - in 1979 the prof said to NEVER put anything on a computer that you don't want EVERYONE to know. That was long before the internet - and it is far more appropriate now than then.

    Facebook and the other 'social apps' make their living through allowing as little privacy as they can get away with. The less privacy, the more people who will read those comments/tweets/whatever that you thought were only going to a close friend or two. (Who promptly spread your dirty laundry across the internet.) And the more readers, the more money the service makes off of you.

  15. Anonymous
    March 5, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I have a question : I usually use my Twitter account for professional purposes and my Facebook one for personal purposes. But what if I get friend requests from colleagues? Should I reject them?

    • Guy McDowell
      March 5, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      If you want to.
      If you're concerned that they might feel rejected if you don't accept the friend request, then I don't know what to suggest. Perhaps suggest that they follow you on Twitter instead and that you use Facebook just for keeping up with family.

    • Lisa Edwards
      March 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      I do. I only accept/make friends with FORMER colleagues whom I'd really like to stay in touch with. Everybody who is a current co-worker can get my updates in person since I interact with them everyday.

      Facebook has also tried to launch a professional service app too to have a feel more like LinkedIn. Can't remember what it is called off the top of my head but every friend who asks me to join that I send a polite reply that if they'd like to connect to me professionally to link to me on LinkedIn but that I intentionally keep my Facebook and LinkedIn separate.

    • Yaara Lancet
      March 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      Like Guy and Lisa said, it's pretty much up to you. As I see it, there are two options: reject them, and say you only use Facebook for family, etc., or, if that feels weird, accept it, and make sure you don't share anything work related you don't want them to see. This is actually what I do. I use Facebook to stay updated, I rarely share myself, and I never ever use it to share anything work related, even links to my own posts is rare.

    • Daniel Escasa
      March 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      To add to what the others have already said, yes, you can add them, then “group” them into others. Haven't tried this yet, but I think you can make your own list, say “Current colleagues”. Then, you do have to be careful when you post status updates. Be selective about which of your updates are “Public”. As I understand it, “Public” updates go out to everyone on your lists. You can select other lists — e.g., Family, Friends, Acquaintances, etc — although I'm not sure you can send status updates to several lists.

      • Yaara Lancet
        March 8, 2013 at 5:38 am

        Yes that's an option, although it feels risky to me. If you just want to have separation and don't plan on really positing anything compromising, that's fine. If you are planning on doing that, these things have a way of getting out, lists or no lists.

  16. dragonmouth
    March 5, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Interestingly, there are employers that penalize applicants for NOT having an Internet presence. No Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn account means to them that you are out of touch, that world has passed you by.

    • Yaara Lancet
      March 5, 2013 at 5:54 am

      Yes, I know some workplaces require some online accounts. It makes sense sometimes, if the job actually requires you to be active online and in social media, but when the job has nothing to do with it I find it ridiculous. It's just another way of screening out applicants randomly without any real interest in what they can actually DO.

      • dragonmouth
        March 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm

        Since in the US it is illegal to discriminate based on age, gender, sexual preference, race or religion, lack of a social networking account is used to peremptorily disqualify otherwise qualified applicants.

        • tkj tkj
          March 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm

          Generally, yes, but please, can you document the 'age' thing?

          I do not believe it is true to have included 'age' : Yes, abusing the elderly is an 'age issue' , a separate kind of crime in the world of 'abuse', and one does have to be of legal age for many things , but
          no, I think you'll find that 'age discrimination' is just not as illegal as you believe it to be.

        • dragonmouth
          March 5, 2013 at 8:22 pm

          "can you document the ‘age’ thing?"
          Google "age discrimination". You might want to start with the following which details the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967:

        • dragonmouth
          March 5, 2013 at 9:09 pm

          "can you document the ‘age’ thing?"
          Google "age discrimination".

          US Congress passed Age Discrimination in Employment Act in 1967.

    • Vampie C.
      March 5, 2013 at 8:48 am

      But it's not because you have an account that you need to post the wrong things.

      • dragonmouth
        March 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

        If one has no account, one cannot embarrass oneself by posting the wrong content.

    • tkj tkj
      March 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      I concur! In fact, this was clearly revealed in a very recent TV program the purpose of which was to have judges representing 'Cosmopolitan Magazine' choose which of the several condidates was to be offered a high-level job ..

      The 'lead interrogator' was very concerned that one of the 'applicant's had no Facebook account! The poor girl (very highly-qualified in every way) got around the issue by stating that she had other 'social net' accounts but just not Facebook.
      By being 'very highly qualified', I mean that although a different girl did get the job, the judges, so impressed by the 'loser' that they created a new position at the magazine for her, so that she, too became a winner!!
      This supports the conclusion that the Facebook matter was spurious, irrelevant, and cruel to have been raised.

      Cosmo dug themselves out of the box by hiring her, but how many are so highly-qualified that such issues really do strongly influence corporate decisions.

      It's disgusting. INMO, not having a Facebook account should be a plus, confirming that the job-seeker is aware of and takes steps to thwart privacy violations.

      • dragonmouth
        March 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm

        "It’s disgusting. INMO, not having a Facebook account should be a plus, confirming that the job-seeker is aware of and takes steps to thwart privacy violations."

        The way I see it, the Human Resources drones want to have as much dirt on applicants and employees as they can to use as leverage. As you say, lack of a facebook or Twitter account should be a plus since it shows the applicant is not into frivolous things.

        • tkjtkj
          March 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm

          Very true ..

          The weirdness continues, though: Im sure they have some sort of 'bell curve' .. the 'clipboard executives', where one's 'social net'

          activity level must never be at the tails .. 'None: VERY bad ' .. -> 'too much: VERY bad' ... "Just Right: Perfect!" tho that last one is never defined ..!

          Oh , to Dragonmouth : I'm delighted you corrected me!!! I continue to hear of age-related 'downsizing/firing/replacements' but it's good to know age discrimination is illegal .. Thanks!! (sorry but my screen here wont let me logon, so im sneeking this msg here ..)

  17. Garris Rago
    March 4, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    Haha I liked the tip about not making it too obvious to break into your house!

    • Alexander Carstensen
      March 5, 2013 at 8:46 am

      I thought that was common sense :/ I never make posts that i am away from home. And only tell it to someone if they call me!

  18. Kaylene Klingert
    March 4, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Great Tips!