The following is a guest post by Karen Clark. Her bio is at the end of the article.
Social media platforms have this incredible way of connecting people the world over. Families and friends get a virtual glimpse of each other’s lives, and businesses are also tapping into this electronic conduit to connect with clients, consumers and fans. Whether you’re sharing a photo on Facebook or Instagram, checking in to your favorite dive bar or sushi restaurant or tweeting about an awesome upset in the playoffs, social media is a dominant and pervasive part of our everyday lives.
Having some safety parameters set up for your (and especially for kid’s) social media use is essential, and that’s why there are privacy settings on your accounts. More importantly, implementing common sense and not making private information public knowledge are things that avid social media users should practice. You never know who’s online following your every move, and if criminals know where you are, they can burglarize your car and home, stalk you or worse.
Becoming a social media target, Hollywood-style
Even though many celebrities have bodyguards, they also have a human desire to connect with their fans on many of the social media sites that millions of everyday people use. In fact, most of the Twitter accounts that have the highest number of followers belong to celebrities. It’s one thing to express an opinion, voice a concern or comment on a hot topic on a platform like Twitter, but if you’re a highly visible person in the media, leaving a trail by tweeting what you’re doing and who you’re with could actually backfire.
Take the case of the teenage burglars aptly dubbed The Bling Ring, who targeted the Who’s Who of young celebrities. Using updates on social media, information from press releases and news articles and Google Maps, the teens were able to pinpoint where stars (including Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, and Paris Hilton) would be at specific times and find exactly where their homes were. Even though famous people may be in the limelight and have their photos and personal information splashed across glossy magazines, everyone’s house is easily traceable on Google maps, so don’t think that you’re exempt from social media stalkers or cyber criminals.
The Bling Ring isn’t the first (and probably won’t be the last) case of cyber-creeping the glitterati. Many other celebrities throughout the decades have been targeted or stalked by crazed fans, but with social media and so much information available on the Internet, it seems like celebrity break-ins and or scandals involving stars have become more prevalent in the past years.
A few social media Dos and Don’ts
- DO make all of your social media accounts private. Many times the default setting is public, so be sure to change it so only your friends and family can view your profile and activity.
- DON’T accept friend requests or followers that you don’t know. You can always block unwanted people from viewing your profile or following you. If you have a problem with someone, contact the webmaster.
- DON’T announce when you’re going out of town or when you’ll be away from your home. Also, avoid checking in online and giving out information about your specific location and the people you’re with unless you’ve confirmed with them that it’s OK.
- DO show some restraint. If you want to share the details of your latest vacation, do it after you’ve returned home.
The next time you “check in” somewhere, think about who is going to see it and if it’s absolutely necessary to share that information. Many teens are unaware of the consequences of sharing personal information on the web, so make sure to inform them of the importance of social media security and how it can help keep them safe.
Karen Clark writes about personal safety and home security for Security Choice.