Social media has become a prominent part of most American’s daily lives. We use these sites to interact, connect and update friends. However, since the diffusion of the Internet, and thus social media sites, there has been growing concern about safety. In recent years, burglars have used social media to find people to target and identify the right times to do so.
Below, we have outlined some important items you need to know regarding the intersection between social media and safety to keep your home secure.
Understand Geotagging Implications
Your activity online can reveal more about where you are and what you are doing than you may realize. Did you know that when you post on most social media sites—like Facebook and Twitter— from your smartphone that your location is shared along with your message? It’s called geotagging.
Geotags are embedded longitude and latitude information attached to your updates and photos. They make it easy for smart burglars to see where you are—and more importantly—where you are not.
The embedded location information is so specific that it can show lurking burglars the exact room of the house you are in or the exact bench you are sitting on in the park. As a result, they have a front seat view of your life and whereabouts.
Most phones and social media sites are defaulted to enable geotagging. We recommend disabling this feature to maintain greater privacy. To do so, use this reference.
Avoid Location-Based Applications
While you may not have been aware of the information you are sharing through geotags, many people use applications where they knowingly forfeit their locations. Foursquare, for example, is a mobile app used to tell people where you are, how often you’re there and other routine behaviors. The nature of such apps provides a map for burglars and other predators. If you use Foursquare, or other similar apps, ensure that you keep your privacy settings as strict as allowable. By limiting access to close friends and family, you can more readily keep information from getting in the wrong hands.
Be Smart About Publicized Information
Along similar lines, be careful what you share in your social updates. Don’t advertise vacations, trips or long weekends away from home, as burglars can mine this information and make you an easy target. Don’t believe us? In 2010, 18 homes in the New Hampshire region were targeted in just this way by burglars. These individuals amassed $100,000-$200,000 worth of stolen property from the homes before getting caught.
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