Sharing details of our lives online has become commonplace, with sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others inviting us to check in at restaurants, post vacation photos, and divulge important life updates with everyone connected to us on social media.
Unfortunately, little thought is given to the possible home security ramifications of such a revealing pastime. Consider these following suggestions and facts to ensure that you and your family are using social media in a way which does not undermine the home security precautions that so many people take:
- Share vacation info upon return, not before departure: No matter how excited you are about your upcoming European tour, Caribbean cruise, or weekend away to see family members, sharing specific dates and information detailing when you will be out of your home for an extended period of time is not a good idea. Writing for HuffPost, Brad Morehead warns: "an update like this one could be an indication that no one will be home for that period of time. This may not only lead to a break-in, but your home could potentially become host to a party or even squatters."
- "Privacy" only extends so far: Most social media users are unaware of the ways in which information can be gathered about them from their internet usage. Privacyrights.org (PRC) reminds us that not only is the information we post shared, but that electronic tracking gathers further information. The idea that any of our social media profiles are truly private is a misconception: "social networks themselves do not necessarily guarantee the security of the information that has been uploaded to a profile, even when those posts are set to be private." PRC references the May 2010 Facebook issue which caused users' private chat logs to temporarily be visible to unauthorized users. This information can be exploited in a variety of ways, including threatening your home security.
- Once you post, you relinquish control: Your intent behind a post being only seen by your friends or followers doesn't come into the equation. David Beaudrie writes that the construction of social media sites lend itself to the rapid spread of information. He says: "even if you only intend for your friends to see your postings about where you are for the evening, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are designed with viral postings in mind...As a result, your post may be seen by hundreds of people you don't know within minutes of you posting it." Think carefully about who could possibly see your posts and whether or not you should be sharing the particular details you wish to post!
- Burglars admit to using social media: According to an infographic posted by Bit Rebels and created by Credit Sesame, 78% of burglars surveyed admitted to using Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare to "target potential properties." Surprisingly, this same infographic highlights the benefits of social media when catching criminals and shares the story of a homeowner who created a Facebook page, posted images from the footage of a break-in at his home, and asked other users to help. Just 36 hours later he had identified the burglars.
Do not let the potential risks deter you from engaging in social media, a medium which has become second nature to a large percentage of the population. Instead, use this information to guide you to make smarter sharing and posting decisions.
What ways can you use social media to make your home more secure? Will this advice help shape your future posting decisions? Let us know on Facebook!