This Prank Will Make You Rethink What You Share Online

Ah, the dreaded overshare. You’ve seen it before—the news feed filled with every minute detail of someone’s day, from what they ate to what they wore to every annoyance they encountered before breakfast. And our teens are certainly guilty of these TMI posts, tweeting between classes and instagramming every lunch. The constant social media stream has become such a normal part of our everyday lives, it’s hard to remember that these posts can be more than just annoying—they can be dangerous.

In the video above, internet-famous prankster Jack Vale shows just how freaky social media can be. Just by reading the public social media posts of people around him (this info is too easy to find, by the way!), he convinces complete strangers on the street that he’s psychic, crazy, or both. They generally don’t respond well to his “psychic” abilities – but how would you react if a stranger knew your name, your birthday, and the exact sweater your dog is wearing at this very moment? The truth is, though, many strangers can, and do, get that information—even if they don’t walk up to you on the street and tell you all about it.

But before you delete your Facebook and lock up your teens’ phones for good, there are steps you can take to keep you and your information safe online. Check out our best advice below:

1. Hands off the geotag! Yes, it’s super cool to #humblebrag about the fancy restaurant you’re having dinner in, but you’re also telling the whole world exactly where you are and when when you add a location (or “geotag”) to your post. For both Twitter and Instagram, this setting is off by default, so this step is easy—just don’t add a geotag and your location will remain anonymous to everyday users.

2. Make your accounts private. We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again, but this is the best way to keep your information safe. If users need permission to follow you, then you won’t show up in a public search. For Twitter and Instagram this process is simple, but Facebook requires a little more effort. Check out our post on how to avoid the Facebook graph search for more of the nitty gritty details.

3. We’ve amended our sharing mantra: If you wouldn’t want your teachers, your parents, your employers, or a stranger to see it, then don’t post it. It’s okay to tell the whole world about the cutest thing your cat did today—but do remember that you’re actually telling the whole world.

Do you worry about your teens presence online? Any tips for how to talk to them about keeping their profiles private? Let us know in the comments below!