Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linkedin, and many more. We love our social media, especially the location-tagging kind now trending, and competing to share our information — personal to professional, and blended. These fun, imaginative and often mobile media applications are available free, which I think is a great price to keep my friends and family in the know exactly where I am. But free, really?
Meaning, don’t give would-be thieves an invitation to explore your home or check out your friends’ and relatives’ places. In such case, knowledge of your location is like found treasure for those trawling the web in search of where they can go next. Think of them as virtual pirates without the coding skills of a hacker. Or worse — a tech savvy network of people working to find your goods.
Now you might be thinking, “Not me. I have my privacy settings locked to Friends only” on Facebook, for example. That’s a good start, but now I have a few questions about those settings.
Have you locked your entire account or just some applications here and there? Have you downloaded any applications recently to give to a charity, take a quiz, or answer a poll? If so, are these also locked so others who have the same application don’t have a backdoor into your account.
Have you been invited to an ‘Event’ at a certain time, along with 300 others, you may not know or know well. Should you click accept so everyone knows when you’re not home?
Do you belong to X enthusiasts group, where you can post comments on the wall? A wall, viewable for everyone online, regardless of whether they are a group member or have an account on that social media site. Or maybe you’ve accepted a computer virus galavanting as a game application to your account that spams your friends or takes your password.
Has your social media site introduced any new settings for its users lately? If so, have you checked that your account is secure and can still only be viewed by your contacts?
See what I mean. And, these examples don’t even take into consideration any bugs a social media site might have, at least temporarily. Despite these ugly scenarios, I still love my social media.
Chances are most people can find personal details about themselves online already. I just prefer not to hand mine over in detail on an insecure site.
With a twist of sarcasm worthy of our topic, I’ve made a list with 15 effective ways to be robbed or taken advantage of using social media. Share safe. Maybe after you get home.
1. Write exactly when you’re leaving on vacation, and for how long you’ll be gone. Mention when the person taking care of your pets will stop in.
2. Post your mailing address or phone number in your Facebook info tab, and don’t customize your privacy settings.
3. Geotag your mobile pictures as you take them, and tweet or auto-post them. Each picture, and therefore your location, can be traced, and even tracked where and when you usually hang out.
4. Write the full names or street location of your relatives, especially elderly ones, on someone’s Facebook wall. Believe that your friends have the same privacy settings to protect your info.
5. In your account privacy settings, make your photo albums viewable to everyone or at least friends of friends. Believe all your friends’ friends (with some acquaintances mixed in) are trustworthy.
6. Allow friends to ‘check you in’ to locations using, for example, the Facebook Places application (Don’t adjust the default setting). This is great all-round for practical jokers, bullies, jealous types, and thieves.
7. Do a search on your social media site for people you know of shady moral character and don’t add them to your block list. This way they are sure to see your profile in a search.
8. Post vacation pictures to sites like MySpace or Facebook while you are still away.
9. Tweet brag about expensive things you have or bought. Be sure your tweet stream is set to public.
10. Play location-based social media games, such as Foursquare, where you check-in to places and give address details. Accept friend requests from everyone who contacts you.
11. Send a mobile status update from a holiday party or during a clubbing night. Chances are when everyone else is drinking spirits or in the spirit of giving, thieves are open to receive — your possessions, at home.
12. Make your account searchable on Google by not adjusting your privacy settings.
13. Log on to a public computer, and keep the ‘remember me’ box ticked for your username and password. Don’t clear the Internet cache for your session. This works for social media sites and email accounts.
14. Use travel applications such as Tripit, which log and post where and when you depart and return from a flight on your profile. And don’t restrict who can view these posts.
15. Write your plans for the evening on a friend’s wall, or tweet it. All their friends or tweet followers can view it, too (Unless your friend has filtering enabled or has made his tweets private. Nice friend).