The True Meaning Of Oversharing

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‘Overshare’ is the dictionary term for the phrase ‘too much information’. This term is referenced by urbandictionary.com as well as Webster’s New World Dictionary, which defines the verb as ‘to divulge excessive personal information, as in a blog or broadcast interview, prompting reactions ranging from alarmed discomfort to approval’.

The trade of information

Language itself was born through our innate desire as humans to share experiences and tell stories. Often, people are perceived to want to keep things to themselves, but when it comes to information, the opposite is true. Unlike showing off material possessions, you can’t boast knowledge of information without giving it away.

Social media has been a catalyst for the development of our urge to share information about ourselves that provokes a strong emotional reaction. The trading of information has reached a more personal level, yet on a more widespread scale. Social media is part of a large majority of the global population’s consciousness, but it is essential to think before sharing information and consider who is reading your every keystroke.

Oversharing also extends to your organisation; people are talking via social media where conversations are vulnerable to being overlooked. It was reported earlier this year that Julian Assange’s establishment of WikiLeaks has inspired many to overshare unauthorised sensitive information.

But the intentions behind oversharing vary significantly from that of whistle-blowing; and one careless comment could damage your organisation’s reputation whilst also jeopardising guilty employees’ future chances of employment.

High spirits

Oversharing can facilitate social connections in appropriate environments; but it is important to be aware of potential repercussions. The festive season provides ample opportunity to deliver positive communications on this topic to raise awareness of the risk of oversharing.

Demonstrate how much your organisation values its employees by educating them about how to protect themselves and their families online. As we approach Christmas, high spirits often cause us to be more relaxed when it comes to security. Advise your workforce to review their privacy settings on their social media accounts and increase them if necessary.

Giving it away

The latest mobile devices introduce more risk; software updates increasingly facilitate the instant upload of a wide variety of media.

Throughout the Christmas period, the younger generation in particular are likely to want to trial their new smartphones and tablets by organising holiday plans via social media or posting photos of their gifts online for their entire network of friends to see. Oversharing prevails because users perceive a huge potential for widespread popularity, most commonly amongst their existing friend groups.

Goodwill to all men

Consider how easy it is for cyber-criminals to disguise themselves on social networks and urge your employees to be thoughtful in how they approach connecting with others. It is not advisable to connect with people who you don’t know in real life.

It is well-known that criminals scour the internet to build comprehensive profiles of their victims. The more information shared online, the easier it is for cyber-criminals to target people with convincing social engineering and phishing scams.

Likewise, social networking sites are a valuable source of information to burglars seeking empty homes, enhanced by the popularity of geo-location apps, displaying where users are and when. Whether or not your organisation supports consumer devices, guidance on how to use the latest technology and avoid the risk of oversharing will be well-received.

Generate discussion amongst employees and protect your organisation from suffering the consequences of disclosing sensitive information; exaggerated scenarios and story-telling are effective engagement mechanisms to demonstrate the risks and raise awareness of just who might be interested in your activity online.

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Hannah Tufts has been a Communications Assistant with The Security Company (TSC) for one year. She is responsible for internal communications within TSC in addition to managing client communications campaigns and providing marketing support. Hannah graduated in July 2011 from the University of Reading with a 2:1 in English and American Literature. Whilst studying Hannah was a regular contributor to the Travel, Comment and Debate sections of the university newspaper. Hannah has gained experience in the Communications field through her time spent with a variety of organisations including WEXAS Traveller Magazine, Penguin Group and CSC, where she developed her writing skills and in-depth understanding of different target-audiences.