Social Media Smarts

Okay people- Time to use our heads. We all know that Social Media is great. It allows us to connect with people we know, people we want to know, and people we didn’t know we wanted to know. While more and more people feel comfortable giving their credit card info online when making a purchase, it’s the users themselves posing potentially high security risks to themselves.

Think about it. Do you know everything about your followers on Twitter? Do you know every one of your “friends” on Facebook? If not, why on earth would you tell them when your vacation plans are?!? You might as well broadcast: “Attention People: I’m going away in 3 days with my whole family which means my house will be empty. I’ll be back on Monday so be sure to water the plants and tidy-up after you rob me.” Seriously people!

Legal and General just finished a study they did on the subject. According to their “Digital Criminal Report”:

“Users of social networking sites are giving away vital information about themselves and their whereabouts which is being used by professional burglars to establish a list of potential targets.”

Their study shows how many people were posting their out of town plans:

“38% of users of sites such as Facebook and Twitter have posted status updates detailing their holiday plans and one-third (33%) have posted status updates saying that they are away for the weekend.”

The study found that people are willing to make connections with people they barely know just because they like their picture (guilty here). You might have friended someone because they’re connected to one of your friends, but how well does your friend know that person? Be careful who you allow access to your status updates, pictures of your home that might give away location, and most importantly vacation plans!

Now we’re all are going through this Social Media learning curve together, but use your head!

SocialMediaDontsI went over a friends house today and used Glimpse. Glympse lets me send my real time GPS location on a map to anyone’s computer who I allow access. I can now show someone when I’m going to be late to pick them up. Family can check to make sure their loved ones get to their destination okay, etc. However, I checked the security and he privacy first. I made sure the settings were that people that can check it are only the people I send it to. There’s an option to tweet it out too. Think twice before you do something like that.

Great things have been accomplished by the Social Media tools, but please use your head.  Remember that your updates, wall posts and tweets are public. So post and tweet those holiday pictures and stories after you get back.

Don’t make yourself a target.

Legal & General Social Media Security Tips:

  • Don’t give out information that might reveal more about you than you want people to know
  • Remember that what feels like a private conversation can often be watched online by friends of friends, or complete strangers
  • Think about using a fun fake name instead of your real name
  • Think about the profile photo you use – it might not be a good idea to make yourself appear like someone who is likely to own lots of expensive gear!
  • Think about the way you write online – it may seems strange, but professional burglars will be put off by people who abbreviate their posts or use ‘text language’ (e.g. ur instead of your), as, rightly or wrongly, they appear less wealthy
  • Don’t post details of when you are going to be leaving the house unattended.

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