If you’ve ever stared, perplexed, at a social media post that wildly overshares, this article will provide some elucidation: Oversharers don’t remember that they overshared.
Researchers at Penn State tracked nearly 7,000 tweets by 110 active Twitter users over a month, and analyzed the information disclosed in the posts, such as location and relationship status. “People don’t always remember what they share on social media, which could be a really big problem,” says lead author Jooyoung Lee, a doctoral student of information sciences and technology at Penn State. Oversharers, in particular, don’t remember the combined information that they’ve shared over time, such as posting a photo of their new home and street and, months later, photos from their day in Hawaii. This potentially allows online online bad actors to “profile, monetize, manipulate and surveil,” says Lee. It also opens up the sharers to a host of privacy and security risks.
The researchers also analyzed oversharers’ demographics, and, surprisingly, found that no traits related to income, age, race, or occupation correlated with oversharing. Oversharers are more likely to have lower education levels and be female. The researchers suggest that social media companies create features that help users track their sharing behaviors.