Social media has forever changed the art of staying in touch. You can tweet pictures from your vacation in Hawaii, share your weekend plans with family on Facebook or upload a selfie on Instagram at the big rock concert.
But your audience may be wider than you know – or ever intended.
We were all taught from an early age that sharing is good. But when it comes to social media, too much of a good thing can be downright dangerous. Oversharing on social networking sites has become a high risk venture – especially if you have features such as geotags or location sharing enabled on your accounts. Why? Because you’re broadcasting that location to the whole world – and if you’re not at home, that makes you the perfect target for burglars. While there’s no hard data, anecdotal evidence over the past several years points to a direct link between sharing whereabouts on social media and an increase in burglaries.
And there are plenty of bad guys out there. According to statisticbrain.com, 58 percent of the world’s population uses social networking. Facebook alone has 1.4 billion users worldwide. Unfortunately, there are many thieves and cyber criminals hiding among that anonymous mass of humanity.
But the dangers could be even closer than that.
Are your “friends” really your friends?
Sure, it’s fun to reconnect with childhood friends and high school buddies. But just because you knew them back then doesn’t mean you know them or can trust them now. Of course, you wouldn’t knowingly consort with criminals, but what about all of the people your friends know, and all of the people their friends know? If one of your friends likes, shares, replies to, comments on, or retweets your update, their activity can show up with your original post on a stranger’s newsfeed. That seemingly innocent exchange of information could pose a security risk to your home.
How do you stay connected without making yourself a target?
Safety experts across the globe have warned social media users to use caution when sharing information. So be selfish with your private information. Here are a few tips to protect yourself and your home from online predators:
- Check your profile. Your favorite social networks encourage you to share personal information including your birth date, home address, city, etc., but don’t do it. You never know what someone will do with that information.
- Check your privacy settings. Make sure you adjust your privacy settings so your updates can only be seen by people on your friends list, and control how others “tag” you in Facebook posts by adjusting your tag settings.
- Check your friends. Regularly review your friends list and remove anyone you’re no longer in contact with. Consider creating separate lists for close friends, professional colleagues, friends on your weekend volleyball team, or any other group you want to share limited information with.
- Don’t broadcast your location. Whether you’re just across town or across the globe, don’t let the bad guys know your home is unoccupied. Wait until you get home to post updates and photos from your trip.
- Don’t advertise your belongings. You might be anxious to let all of your friends know about your brand new flat screen TV or iPad, but it’s best to resist the urge to post pictures or status updates about your belongings. You never know who’s paying attention.
Let the personal insurance team at Higginbotham Insurance help you safeguard your belongings. Because we’re an independent agency, we have access to a wide range of personal and business insurance products. Allow us to shop the market on your behalf to find the best home and auto insurance policies for your unique needs and budget.