Avoid Your Own $80,000 Facebook Mistake

Oversharing online can cost you if you're not careful 

(This article appeared previously on AOLJobs.com

Have you heard about the Facebook post that cost one family $80,000?

As part of an age-discrimination suit, Patrick Snay, a Miami-area headmaster won a settlement from Gulliver Preparatory School. He saw the money disappear with one click after his daughter, Dana Snay, reportedly posted this update to her 1,200 “friends” on Facebook, letting on that her father had broken his confidentiality agreement by telling her about the settlement: "Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT."

Pay Attention to Your Privacy Settings
Could something like this ever happen to you? Absolutely.

If we give Ms. Snay credit for knowing she would be violating the confidentiality clause by telling people this news, we can only assume she got caught in one of two big errors that entrap many social media users: 

1. They assume more privacy than they have. A study by Columbia University study showed 93.8% of Facebook users surveyed revealed information on Facebook they did not want disclosed. In other words, they were sharing details they did not want to be public with unintended audiences. Facebook's privacy settings can be confusing. Even when expert users set up different groups to receive updates, one misstep, and an update intended for one group inadvertently reaches the wrong audience—and makes the wrong impression.

(MORE: How to Use Facebook to Find Work)

How can you address this concern? Review your privacy settings on Facebook. Be aware of your choices about who can view your updates. Are you allowing “friends of friends” to see what you share? You may want to limit that audience, as doing so will help reign in unintended results from your status updates.
2. They underestimate potential leaks. It's sad, but true: sometimes, people you trust — those in your “inner friend circle” may not have your best interest at heart.  In this case, it appears as if many people with allegiances to the school responsible for paying the $80,000 settlement were among the 1,200 people with access to the Facebook update.

The teenaged Snay may have fully intended her update to reach all 1,200 of this “friends,” but it is unlikely she considered the fact that some of them may share her post beyond those confines. The advice, “trust no one” very likely applies here.

When it comes to your privacy settings, even the best tended Facebook account is only as secure as the least loose-lipped “friend.” All it takes is one person to pass around his Smartphone featuring an update intended for a small group, or for someone to share the update electronically, and the cat is out of the bag.

Don't Overshare
The best advice for social media users: never write or share anything you wouldn't want the entire world to see. Save your secrets for one-on-one conversations with trusted friends. Or, keep it between you and your pets!
Save your sanity, your job and, in this case, money. Do not share anything on Facebook or any network if you consider in the least bit confidential. Be aware, your friends may be less than friendly when it comes to keeping your information private. 


Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Business Success, Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success.


Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:

Next Avenue brings you stories that are inspiring and change lives. We know that because we hear it from our readers every single day. One reader says,

"Every time I read a post, I feel like I'm able to take a single, clear lesson away from it, which is why I think it's so great."

Your generous donation will help us continue to bring you the information you care about. Every dollar donated allows us to remain a free and accessible public service. What story will you help make possible?