Friday, January 30, 2015

Platform Tips for Writers—How Much Information is Safe to Share Online?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

As writers we know the importance of developing an online presence, but is there such a thing as too much information out there?


The result of too much information online can range from the irritating to the dangerous. But it is possible to be smart and still have an online presence that will garner you the right kind of reader notice.

So how much is too much to stay safe online? Anything that lets your online presence collide with your physical presence without you managing the connections. 

Here are some tips to help you stay out of trouble:
  • Have boundaries firmly established in your own mind—BEFORE something happens. That way, when someone get too familiar, you’ll be ready to do more than just feel vaguely uncomfortable. So often I talk to writers who have a cyber-stalker and they’re not even certain whether they should be concerned or not.
  • Trust your instincts. I cannot emphasize this one strongly enough. If someone makes you uncomfortable, act on your feelings.
  • Don’t friend/follow/or otherwise engage someone who isn’t willing to post a picture and/or give out reasonable information.
  • Don’t use an social media networks and/or settings where you check in at places. There is no good reason or someone to know where you are generally. If you’re at a conference or a big event, you can let people know you’re there if you choose, but don’t leave your safety to a computer program.
  • Turn OFF your location settings for your phone, digital camera, ereader and tablet. Otherwise, any picture you take with those devices could have an imbedded code that gives the latitude and longitude of where the picture was taken. This is especially true if you post pictures of children (your own or even grandkids). Don’t make it easy for a predator to map out your location.
What should you do when something makes you uncomfortable?
The biggest thing is do NOT be tempted to be polite when you’re worried. This is similar to following your instincts in that we often push down our uncomfortable feelings for the sake of being polite. If someone is tweeting to you, sending you repeated Facebook messages, or contacting you in any way that makes you uncomfortable, don’t ignore your feelings.
  • First, confront the person making you uncomfortable and request they respect your boundaries.
  • If they don’t adhere to your guidelines, immediately block them from the social media networks where they are contacting you.
  • Finally, report them to the social media network(s) where the infraction occurred.

This isn’t something you should fool around with, but it’s also something you shouldn’t be worried about. Taking these steps will keep you safe and give you the boundaries you need to stay safe online.

What steps do you take to stay safe? Have you ever felt uncomfortable by a contact? If so what did you do?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Replies
    1. Henry, it's s tricky line to walk, that's for sure! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  2. Edie, when I first started writing I heeded the advice to get a PO Box and give out that info instead of my physical address. I doubted I'd attract many stalkers, but I followed that advice. Now that admonition seems minor compared with the material available on social media. Truly, there is no privacy anymore without some degree of vigilance in everything we do. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Richard, even though it's possible to find it, I still don't share my physical address on any kind of public venue, like social media. Good thoughts, Thanks E

  3. I agree. I know some authors who write under a pen name for the sake of privacy. As a social media manager by day, I live in the world of the web and just don't feel that threatened by it - IN GENERAL.

    I figure that via my personal profiles, people can already see photos of my family, pictures of where we've gone to eat, etc. So I share BASICALLY the same types of content on my professional profiles, but I do remove the geo-tagging (I might tag the restaurant chain for example, but I wouldn't geo-tag the photo to say WHICH one we're at).

    I also know enough from working in the industry to guard some information (I never post my phone or address, for example, or the name of my child's school).

    BUT - I say this all with the understanding that I've never had a criminal stalk me or my family, or make threats online, etc. In a case like that, I'd be the first one to shut everything down and share ZERO personal photos or information.

    1. Jessica, you're so right. All good thoughts, thanks so much for sharing, Blessings, E

  4. Thank you, Edie. Great advice worth sharing!

  5. Great and informative post, Edie. Thanks for sharing. I try to keep my author page and personal page separate, but sometimes there is some overlap. I usually refrain from posting pictures showing where we are, or talking about where we ate etc until after the fact and we're already gone.

    There was one instance where a person friended me on Facebook and started sending me messages on Facebook. It started to get a little odd when she asked for my phone number etc without any apparent reason. I politely declined, but when she pressed for it, I unfriended her. I haven't had any problems since. I think the key is to catch things while they're still young.

    1. Amber, that's great advice, "catch things while they're still young." Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Blessings, E

  6. Thank you for this post Edie. I had no idea about the location settings part. I will pass this info onto my kids as well!

  7. Hello Edie! I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Go to for details!


  8. Hi Edie -

    Solid advice. I always visit a person's page prior to accepting a friend request and check their name against my existing friend list. I've caught many phoney pages as a result. I also don't hesitate to unfriend the would-be Romeos, those trying to get me into multi-level marketing businesses, etc. Unless their page really impresses me, I won't accept a friend request from someone who doesn't have any mutual friends.

  9. Thanks, Edie! These are wise words.