The most embarrassing social media privacy mistakes to avoid

The most embarrassing social media privacy mistakes to avoid

by Reda Achourtani, July 1, 2019

Written by Daniel Howley

First published  26 June 2019


When it comes to social media, privacy is the word on everyone’s mind. Lawmakers are looking into potential regulation to tamp down on data misuse, while government authorities are eyeing massive fines for the likes of Facebook  thanks to its infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal.

But for the average person, there’s something even more dangerous: the social faux pas that occurs when you forget that your browsing habits are often shared with your friends, followers, and fellow posters.

You know that picture you liked on Instagram? Well, all of your followers know you liked it, too. And that Snap Story you watched while riding the bus this morning? The person who posted it knows you watched it, too.

It can all get a little embarrassing when you realize just how much of your social media usage is public. Ever tell your friend you couldn’t go out after work, then have her find out you went to dinner with another friend thanks to your Venmo history? It’s not great.

That’s why I’m here to help. These are the biggest social media mistakes to avoid.

Venmo will get you caught every time

Let’s start with that aforementioned money-sharing service. Venmo  lets you send and receive cash between friends, family, and that stranger you accidentally sent $20 to because she has the same first and last name as your coworker.

Venmo, for no discernible reason, features a social element that lets you see transactions between your friends. It’s an incredibly strange option for a cash-sharing app, and can lead to some horribly awkward social interactions.

Imagine you tell your boss you’re leaving work early to go to the doctor, but are actually heading out to do some light day-drinking with friends. If you send your pal $30 to cover your part of the bill, your boss could end up seeing it — which could lead to a very uncomfortable conversation.

It’s an unnecessary element for the service that turns everyone into a spy, as they try to hide their various transactions from friends and family members. Though, it also helps Venmo set itself apart from its parent company PayPal’s own service.

Thankfully, Venmo lets you set all of your transactions to private by default via the app’s Privacy section in the Settings menu.

You can also set the visibility of individual requests and payments by tapping the “public” or “private” button in the lower right corner of the screen. And if you’re worried about your old transactions, you can set them to private, as well.

Everyone knows what you like on Instagram

Facebook-owned Instagram is all about getting likes for your perfectly composed image of a charcuterie board you put together yourself, and definitely didn’t order from a professional caterer. But what you might not have realized is that when you like a photo, whether it be a friend’s shot or something more NSFW, everyone who follows you can see that you’ve liked it. Of course, this only applies to public posts you like.


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