Social media has made all of us a lot more comfortable with transparency. Friends, family, and even strangers now know where we work, what we do in our personal time, and what our day-to-day schedules look like. Anything from going to the grocery store to heading out for a week or two on vacation, we announce to the world because sharing or storytelling is the nature of social media.
We don’t, however, often think about the risks that come along with this kind of transparency. Sure, you’ve heard of people getting in trouble at work for things they’ve posted on social media, but have you considered the fact that people other than your friends and coworkers are reading your statuses? Every time you announce to the social media network that you’re leaving the house, you risk having burglars or intruders finding that information. Here’s some things you can do to help ensure your privacy isn’t being invaded:
Evaluate Social Media Sites & Security Preferences
Depending on your settings, the social media site you’re using could make your posts public to anyone. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help prevent strangers or potential burglars from seeing your personal posts. In the settings menu for most social media sites, you can make your information known only to people you
choose. For Facebook, it’s pretty easy to change these settings. For other sites, however, you will have to dig into your settings to find out exactly how to prevent others from seeing your posts.
A good test for this is to meet up with someone you aren’t friends with on Facebook—or maybe someone who doesn’t have an account—but trust, and have them try to see your social media posts. If they are unable to see them, you know your security preferences are working.
You also need to be aware that there are several social media sites that don’t offer a preference that prevents strangers from seeing your data. Before you join any sites, be sure to check their preferences to see if all your posts will be public to anyone who looks for them.
Keep Your Vacation to Yourself
When you’re going to be gone on vacation, you might be enticed to share your trip with others because you’re so excited. While it may seem pretty harmless, you should keep those types of status updates and pictures to yourself. If strangers happen to see that you’re gone for a week or more, they’ll be more likely to choose this time to burglarize your house or apartment. Instead, you can share your trip with others after it happens. Avoid posting pictures while you’re away and instead post them once you’re back in town and have watch over your house or apartment.
Don’t Enable GPS on Social Sites
Many social media sites will ask to use your location when you’re tweeting or posting on Facebook. This is an especially dangerous tool that we don’t think about. Once the site has permission, it will always associate your posts with a location, thereby telling everyone you know (and some you don’t) where you are and what you’re doing. Be sure to disable this function on your social media so you don’t broadcast when your home is empty.
It’s easy to forget that social media can be dangerous for your home’s security. Because everyone uses social media and many post very personal things, we often think that it’s a safe venue. If it’s something that tells others you’re not at home, it could be trouble. Social media is a fantastic tool that allows us to enjoy many of our moments more fully, but we should do so responsibly. In short, always think about what you’re posting!