Safe Travels: Social Media Mistakes to Avoid Over the Holidays
Updating your status has become a routine method of letting your friends and family know the play-by-play moments in your daily life. But over-sharing can lead to inadvertent self-sabotage; posting your travel whereabouts can you leave you vulnerable to theft—not to mention annoy people who had less enjoyable holidays. When traveling during the holidays it’s best to leave your status vague and take care when using location-based applications.
By Sara Weiner, Digital Integration and Innovation
Social networks and applications that allow users to post their location and activities have grown in popularity and usage. Foursquare, which lets users constantly broadcast their whereabouts as part of a game, has over 2 million users.5
Facebook sees 60 million status updates daily.6
Twitter, with similar stats, allows not only minute-by-minute posts but will tell followers your location. While interesting, status updating and location tracking have reached a level of danger; when users post things such as “Going on a cruise! See you in 2 weeks!”, anyone a user has ever connected with on their social network has the ability to see their post; often friends of a friend have access to it as well. Unfortunately, not everyone you connect with on a social network is ethical and moral, and a house left empty for two weeks is a prime target for crime.
Robberies as a result of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare7
activity have been reported numerous times. With all the open access to one’s personal whereabouts, it’s up to the user to be savvy about protecting their public information. This includes ensuring that posts, status updates and location apps do not over-share specifics.Implications and Action Items
When you travel you probably set automatic lights or have a neighbor pick up your mail so that lurking criminals don’t target your empty house. But in the era of open-access technology, these efforts are negated by status updates and location-based apps. Just checked in to Amsterdam Hotel? You’re clearly not at home, and your automatic lights and helpful neighbors quickly become nullified.
To keep your home and property safe in 2011 and beyond, try “updating” your social network habits to include travel best practices:
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- Refrain from posting anything about vacation and extended time away.
- Don’t mention shopping sprees such as “shopping for jewelry,” which only incents criminals to rob you later.
- Check privacy settings to ensure that only the people you trust can see your status updates, posts and locations.
- Consider turning off location tracking if you use Twitter, and not checking in at places when you’re traveling.
- Befriend and follow only people you know and trust; consider having separate accounts or settings for acquaintances, colleagues and people you have only met in passing.