Social Media Street Smarts

Social networking sites made people’s lives more transparent and visible to the world. A lot of people use social media to show off and boast a little. It is like a vanity fair of the modern world.

If you think that burglars don’t use social media, you’re mistaken. Some of the burglars track down people’s profiles on Facebook and Twitter in order to see what pictures and statuses they post. Tweeting about your new BMW or a holiday on the Bahamas might be not a good idea. The burglar may get this information and break into your house when you’re gone. Better keep your travel plans private, don’t announce them to the world.

Social media poses a lot of privacy concerns by putting people’s lives on a display and modifying the privacy settings. A simple status update, a new Instagram picture or a check-in update on Foursquare can put your home security at risk. Posting your holiday pictures from Italy or any other country would only mean that your home is open for burglars. The worst part is that a lot of people use Foursquare and have no idea that their location is publicly available.

What can you do?

Burglars normally do their homework. First of all, they choose the house and monitor it for a while, they try getting as much information as they can about you and your habits. You should pay attention to your social media activity and follow some simple rules:

  • If you’re going on a trip for a couple of days or even weeks, don’t say that on Facebook and Twitter. Keep it a secret and let only your close friends know about your travel plans, otherwise burglars may know when you’re leaving and if anyone is staying at your apartment while you’re away;
  • Don’t indicate your exact address and phone number on your profiles;
  • Only your friends should see your profile updates. Check your Facebook settings and change you privacy from ‘public’ to ‘private.’ Your statuses should not be visible to general public;
  • Be wise about your online friends. Don’t add strangers to your friends list. You never know who they really are;
  • If you bought an expensive TV or an antique vase, uploading a picture of your newly purchased expensive things would only attract attention of criminals. If they know what to look for in your house, they would break in faster and leave the house as soon as they can. Burglar alarm would not help you in this case;
  • Some people cannot spend a day without posting a new status. That’s why you should stop indicating your every move online.

Think twice before you post your location on Twitter as criminals might use this information against you. Burglars look for easy targets and social media gives them carte blanche. Posts, pictures and daily updates may seem harmless to you and valuable for someone who’s planning on breaking into your apartment. Don’t forget to update your home security system before you travel next time.

Guest post by contributing author Richard O., working together with

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