Yippee I’m off on holiday for two weeks, my car is parked on the drive and I’ve just changed my money at my bank (the branch that’s two doors down from my house). My mother’s maiden name is Jones and my first pet was called Floppy!

These are just some of the things that we shouldn’t even think about sharing via social media sites. It’s surprising what some people will disclose over the internet given that 40% of people have open access to their accounts. So, posts should be written with caution.

In The Psychology of Social Media, Chris Lee says ‘behave as if you were with your friends but with your mother in the other room!’  Your family or boss could see it like the case in 2009 where an employee was seen at a party via facebook whilst off ‘sick’, subsequently leading to his sacking. Disclosing too much information could lead to other unpleasant consequences such as people getting your personal details, encouraging trolls or people finding out where you live.

Emotions online

Emotions are often shared via social media and emotional posts can increase the likelihood of videos and content being shared with others. Rosanna Guadagno, a social psychologist, found in her research that if video content is emotionally arousing, either positively by something very sweet/ cute, or negatively so that it may elicit anger or disgust, it is more likely to be shared and go viral. Does this mean we should share negative emotions more often, or just keep adding in a cute cat photo with everything we post?

cute cat

Are we being manipulated?

Of course we are! Last year, Facebook was criticised for manipulating the emotions of users without their consent. The results of their ‘experiment’ had some very interesting findings indeed.

However, critics of the experiment suggest that because a small number of emotional expressions were missing from user’s timelines (with the intention of testing whether moods of Facebook users were affected) that this was a direct manipulation of people’s thoughts from personal lives.

We are manipulated all the time via the media by adverts and on television where we are being sold a product. But we can choose to turn off the things that we don’t like.   

On Facebook, however, we ‘choose’ the people who we want to hear from and interact with online, by accepting them as ‘friends’. Facebook is an arena for friends and family rather than the views of a media company. So, would you say yes if Facebook asked if they could hide some posts from you for an experiment?  

Facebook have apologised (with a mixed reaction from users) and probably won’t do this again without the permission of their followers.  

So what things shouldn’t be shared on social media sites?

There are the obvious things and these are banned from Facebook and other sites. They include nudity, threats, violence and hate speech.

Here are our top five things to avoid posting on Facebook

  1. Complaints about your boss – you could get the sack!
  2. Dramas
  3. Your daily schedule – keep burglars away
  4. Extreme views – you may offend someone
  5. Don’t link your personal sites to professional sites

The golden rule: if you aren’t comfortable with it ……. then just don’t share it!

It’s always a good idea to check your privacy settings from time to time to ensure that only the people we want to are seeing what we have posted. Remember that updates can auto-alter our settings and allow more people to view us than we think.  

Related links

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