Don’t post holiday travel plans on social media

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While this message is being repeated time and again it is once again, it would appear, something that is needed, yet again.

There is no such thing as 100 percent privacy on social media websites, and even so-called friends may not really be friends.

Therefore DO NOT post any information as to whether you are going away over the holidays and to where on Facebook, Twitter, or other forums and such like. This is one sure way of letting criminals know your home is empty. Thus it is not a very good idea even though you may think you MUST keep your “friends” and followers informed every minute of the day what you are doing and where you are.

Avoid you home being targeted by burglars by keeping all that information until later. There is no need for everyone to know where you are and what you are doing. Also and especially resist the urge to broadcast their location on Twitter or through “geotagging” which posts the users exact location on Facebook and other sites.

There are ways of protecting yourself by simply turning any “geotagging” facility simply off (permanently) and also not to have any address details posted on any of the sites, whether Facebook, Twitter, or what-have-you.

Parents need to be especially vigilant in watching what their children post on social media websites. Kids might brag about going on a ski vacation or post their current location as home alone while the parents are out shopping. This is dangerous information if it falls into the hands of the wrong people.

As we saw the hacking of Mark Zuckerberg’s own Facebook page, there is no such thing as 100% privacy on social media websites, and even so-called friends may not really be friends. Therefore it is best to not put anything on the Internet that could be used to find you or your home, and that includes photos that could be used for burglars and other criminals to track you and your home down.

Here are five tips for using social media safely:

  1. If you are traveling out of town, wait until you return home to post photographs and details about your trip. DO NOT do it while you are away. Criminals search for personal information on Facebook profiles and may discover an opportunity to burglarize your empty house.

  2. If you or your children are home alone for the day or the weekend, never post it as a status update on Facebook or tweet it.
  3. Thoroughly examine all the privacy options Facebook offers for the accounts of everyone in the family and choose the most restrictive settings. Review with your children who is on their friend’s list and verify they are truly friends.
  4. Do not post dates of birth and other sensitive personal information. Be aware not to accidentally publish answers to security questions, such as mother’s maiden name, the town you were born in or your favorite movie. Also avoid giving out information that could help narrow down your location, such as which high school a student attends.
  5. Turn off “geotagging” on Twitter and other social media sites to avoid telling strangers where you are and where you are not.

Your safety, that of your family, and of your home and possessions could be at risk if you reveal too much information about yourself, your family and your locations. Play it safe at all times.

Oh, and before I forget: this is valid for all occasions and not just the Christmas holidays and vacations.

© 2011