In the digital age, most of us have several social media profiles. Often times, we put a lot more information out there than we realize. This information can be used to form basic profiles of us. It is important to learn what you put out there and how you can edit yourself in situations like job searching, going through border security, and more.

Take a Quiz to Test Your Knowledge of Information Sharing on Facebook and Twitter!

Twitter Profiling

    From my main Twitter profile page, we already learn a lot about me. I attend school at the University at Buffalo and I'm a Media Studies student. From this, you can go onto to the UB Directory, which is available to anyone, and find my school email address. Then we see where I live, and my birthdate. Now, whoever is seeing this can narrow the population of Williamsville down to all 21 year old females with red hair. If someone was really trying to find me, I've already given them good information to work off of. By using my followers and the people I follow, they can determine my relationships and possibly pinpoint my location even further, depending on the settings my followers have on their profiles.

    As you can see, I have a lot of tweets, and my account dates back to 2011. I went through my archive and I have chosen some posts that give away personal information.

      Here I re-affirm that I go to school at UB. One could find the location I tweeted this from fairly easily and see what is in this area, which is dorms as well as the University Couseling Services. If you looked at other posts, you would find that I live off-campus, and conclude that I either go to counseling or I work there, and I confirm I'm a student assistant at UBCS in several other tweets.

      This tweet requires context from other information I've already given. I wrote this in 2011, and since I'm 21 in 2017, you can assume I was 15 at this time. That is the typical age of a high school sophomore. I've already disclosed that I live in Williamsville, NY, and I've portrayed "Sweet Home" as a place here. With a simple Google search, you can find that there is a Sweet Home High School in Williamsville.

      In this series of tweets, I'm giving away a lot of information about my family. From the first tweet, you can see that my brother was 12 in 2011, making him 17 now. I'm also sharing that he is taller than average, or that my grandparents and I are shorter than average, both of which are true. In the second tweet, I'm not saying much other than a physical characteristic of one of my sisters. However, if someone were to see a blonde little girl and a redhead, they could assume it was me. In the third tweet, I'm providing more information about my little sister that would allow someone to further identify me if I was with her.

      It was honestly a little shocking to see how much I talked about my family dynamics. These aren't the types of things people usually share so openly. Based on the times of these tweets, you could interpret that my mom has been married twice, that her first husband was a bit of a crazy person, and that my biological father was never in the picture. In the second tweet, I'm revealing that my stepdad is a nuclear chemist. This could seriously hinder him if he were ever in trouble with confidentiality issues. From the fourth tweet, you can see that at some point, my family was in financial straits and needed government assistance. Reading further into it, a political position of mine comes to light.

      This last tweet really shows how much I'm willing to share on social media. This tweet opens me up to possible hacking and of course unsolicited spam emails.

      This is only a sampling of my Twitter, and if you examined it further you could find tons of information on my high school, where I lived during certain years, my financial situation, etcetera. If I was ever being investigated for a crime or someone wanted to steal my identity, they wouldn't have to look much further than twitter.com/kaileighsaeva.

      Google Searching Classmates

      I thought it would be interesting to see how my classmates interact with social media and protect themselves online. Overall, I was very impressed with the limited amount of data I found on everyone, with the exception of a few.

      To protect idenitites and egos, I've chosen to keep this portion of the project as an in-class presentation only.

Editing Social Media

We think of Social Media as an outlet to freely express ourselves, but there are times when this is not the smartest thing to do. If you are in a situation that requires you to edit your social media, here are some tips on doing so.

    For A Job Interview

    Companies often look a candiate's social media profiles to gauge their personalities and see if they maintain a level of professionalism in a public forum. It is important to groom yourself to look attractive to potential employers.

    1. Create bios that are concise and give a taste of your personality.

    Ideally, this is as far as most employers will look. Make your bios interesting, and make sure to give some basic information about yourself.

    2. Refrain from using vulgarities and delete content that is profane in nature.

    This includes things like racial slurs and swear words. If you're looking for a professional position, it is obvious that these types of words can cause friction in a workplace. If these things are really important to you, I would suggest hiding your profiles or finding jobs that won't check your social media.

    3. Maintain your personality

    At its heart, social media is designed to allow the user to shine through. It is perfectly fine to showcase your sense of humor, political beliefs, sexuality, and more, as long as it is done in a respectful and professional manner. If an employer has an issue with anything relating to your personal beliefs, this is unacceptable and you should look into laws regarding discrimination.

    For Going Through Immigration

    In the age of Trump, we are constantly hearing stories about how the social media accounts of immigrants are being used against them. To avoid being denied entry into the United States, here are some suggestions.

    1. Know your rights.

    A customs agent cannot demand your phone or passwords to your social media accounts. If you willingly hand them over, that is considered consent to search. This of course will cause suspicion, and so I do not recommend it unless you really have nothing to hide.

    2. Remove or hide any content criticizing the government.

    Despite the US being flaunted as beacon of free speech, the current administration does not take well to criticism. This is very important to do, as it will surely create trouble for you in customs. Satire or comics about the president, posts critiqing policies, or anything relating to the government should be considered.

    3. Conceal any evidence of political activism in the United States or in other countries.

    This type of content can paint you as a troublemaker if viewed by the wrong person. Even if the work you are doing causes good and has a purpose, it can be problematic if it is directed towards particularly tenious issues in society. This also relates back to criticizing the government.

    For Online Dating

    When you sign up for apps like Tindr, they often link to your outside social media accounts. Follow these tips to both protect yourself and make yourself look more attractive in your online dating profiles.

    1. Examine what information from your social media accounts is shared on the third-party app.

    This includes what you can visually see on your dating profile, as well as the information that is exchanged between the accounts. By doing this, you can control what is seen immediately by another person.

    2. Follow your digital trail.

    By doing this, you can see what someone else might find on you based on your dating profile. Start with your name in Google. Unless you have a generic name, you'll find that the top results are directly related to you. Then go on to include any other information you have on your profile, such as your school and specific interests.

    3. Clean up your profiles according to what you find on yourself.
    This applies to any situation really, but when it comes to dating, you really want to put your best foot forward. Delete anything you find embarrassing or possibly offensive, and chose photos and posts to highlight your personality.