6 reasons burglars love Facebook and Twitter updates

It's human nature to enjoy telling our friends about our trips, but telling our "friends" on Facebook or "follows" on Twitter when we leave home is also great news to burglars. Here's why:

  • 1) Writing updates about your travel plans that includes the dates you leave and return is just like putting a huge sign up in your front yard announcing: "No one is home now--please rob this house.
  • 2) You might think you know your "friends" on Facebook or "follows" on Twitter, but a British insurance firm studied the issue and determined that very few social media users in the study made the effort to screen the individuals they have on the list of friends. 13% of Facebook users and 92% of Twitter users in the study accepted friend requests or follows without checking up on the source.
  • 3) Each time you post picture a picture that shows your house interior or features possessions--cars, computers, cameras, TVs, jewelry, and even pets--you allow those unscrupulous friends or follows check out what they might want to steal.
  • 4) Photo location features tell everyone the exact location of your house or location of other places you visit. Smartphones love creating geotags in photos. Unless you turn OFF this feature when you take and post a photo on social media, the photo geotags store location-based data in the form of latitude and longitude for anyone to see. The tricky part is the fact you might not notice the location is listed, but smart burglars do! Adam Savage, host of the popular science program "MythBusters," posted a picture on Twitter of his automobile parked in front of his house and said he was leaving for work. By giving this Twitter update, he let his fans know much more than that he drove a Toyota Land Cruiser.
  • 5) Location services such as Foursquare tell anyone who is one of your friends or follows when you check in at a restaurant or wherever. And they also tell folks when you are NOT home. And if you are not home, burglars know they are free to rob your house. 
  • 6) Photo geotags can give away your address, but there is one more way your address is available to burglars: Whenever your friends visit you and "check in" with their smart phone to update their status--they are giving away your exact address.

Staying connected is the appeal of social media. Staying safe means waiting to share your travel plans until you get home! 

For more information on smart use of social media, check out Momathon's tips on Facebook, Twitter, and social media.

- Chris Olson writes the blog Momathon Blog and is a freelance writer and illustrator. She also answers to the names of chief dog walker, grocery hauler, and "the one with the keys to the car." 

Illustration above: Chris Olson © 2010.

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