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Oversharing on social media can cost you

Public figures like Anthony Weiner, the former congressman who was felled by a sexting scandal, know all too well what it feels like to run into the buzz saw that is social media.

But what if you're not famous? Oversharing information or images on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram likely won't result in a headline-grabbing controversy, but it still could wind up costing you plenty of money.

"Online reputation management and mitigation companies are a booming business because people just can't stop posting things they shouldn't, which often have long-term negative effects on their personal and professional lives," says Robert Siciliano, an online security expert for McAfee.

With smartphones giving users the ability to post to social media no matter where they are or what they're doing, avoiding oversharing may be harder now than ever. Here are some of the potential consequences.

Social networking on mobile phones | Selfie phone: © Bplanet/Shutterstock.com, dangling social icons: © niroworld/Shutterstock.com, Person & social cluster: © The Cute Design Studio/Shutterstock.com, Calendar: © Vector pro/Shutterstock.com, hand holding phone: © VLADGRIN/Shutterstock.com

Jeopardize a current or future job

When you're angry at your boss, it might be tempting to pull out your phone and shoot off a blistering Facebook update. But doing so could jeopardize your career, human resources consultant Brenda Vander Meulen says.

"Never say anything negative about a current or former employer on your social media pages. Employers will reasonably assume that if you trash-talk your current or former employers, they will be the next ones to be trashed," Vander Meulen says.

It also might be tempting to post pictures of your night out. But use common sense, Vander Meulen says.

"Don't talk about how drunk or high you got last weekend. Don't talk about how you faked being sick so you could take an extended weekend with your friends," she says.

Kelly Kolb, an employment attorney at law firm Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, cites the story of one employee who emailed his boss that a family emergency would prevent him from coming to work. He was fired after the boss saw the employee on Facebook clad in a fairy costume and swigging a beer at a party the very same day.

But exactly when an employee can be called on the carpet or even canned over a social media post isn't clear-cut. The National Labor Relations Board has sued employers for firing employees who've taken to social media to complain about poor working conditions, Kolb says.

Kolb's advice to employees: "Assume you have no expectation of a right of privacy in any social media posts, and assume your employer will see every social media post."

Endanger your educational prospects

John Lincoln, who teaches about social media at the University of California, San Diego, says many colleges and universities are examining their social media policies in the wake of tragedies like the recent slayings near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He says schools are walking a fine line between not "overly" censoring students on social media and shielding students and the schools from dangerous behavior online.

"Anything posted online can leak. So generally it is a good policy to conduct yourself on social media just as you would in a similar group and context in the real world," Lincoln says.

Bankrate Audio

3 financial dangers of social media

Transcript

These days we post just about everything on social media, but there are hidden financial dangers that you need to be aware of.

Career trouble is just one example of how badly managing your social media accounts can hit your pocketbook. You should take down any questionable pictures you have or make your profile private. And think twice before posting anything negative about your employer. Companies often monitor mentions of their brand on all social media platforms.

You also need to be smart about the information you make available on social media. Your public Facebook profile with your address, and parents’ names, and pictures of your dog Fluffy, often provide answers to security questions that identity thieves will use to hack into your bank accounts. And don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know in real life --this isn’t a popularity contest.

Remember, just because a social media site wants your information, doesn’t mean you have to give it. And above all else, just use common sense.

For ways to be financially smart on social media, follow us on twitter @bankrate.

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