Currently, 76 percent of Americans use social media; to put that into perspective, that number was only 7 percent just 10 years ago. The average Internet user has over five social media accounts. On a global scale, there upwards of 1.65 billion mobile social accounts currently.
Over the last decade, social media has become a central part of modern-day communication. Social sharing ties together friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances— despite the physical geography. Whether it is a tweet, status update, or photo share, people can see intricate parts of other people’s lives. We can stay up-to-date on the whereabouts of our friends and loved ones…but it all comes at a price. Social sharing presents it’s own list of personal security issues.
So what should you be cautious of when it comes to social media? Here are the most prevalent problems:
Over-sharing information can lead to identity theft. And unfortunately, according to CNN Money, an instance of identity fraud occurs every two seconds. Ask anyone who has had his or her identities stolen, and you’ll quickly discover how difficult it is to sort everything out. In creating several online social media profiles, you have the option to disclose personal information, like your birthday, address, email address and telephone phone number. Keep in mind that this information, without the proper privacy settings will be made public—for the whole world to potentially see.
Do you know who might see this information and do something potentially dangerous with it? You never know, which is why it’s crucial to either not disclose specific information at all, or establish privacy settings that limit what the public sees. Another thing to consider about privacy settings is that hackers will be able to find a way to access information that is listed, but not necessary shared. It’s really up to you to protect yourself—the best way of doing so is with minimal disclosure of personal information.
Many social media platforms provide location-based services. These allow users to tag themselves in specific locations—say at a restaurant, bar, city, etc. It’s great to share where you are, especially when on vacation or at a special event, however, it exposes your specific location to those who may be targeting a home burglary, sexual assault or other type of dangerous/violent act towards you, your family or your home. As much as you want to disclose your location, be aware of the risks that could result. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself when location sharing is okay and when it could be more dangerous for the parties involved.
A picture is worth a thousand words. We use photos to share special life events, vacations/trips, new purchases, etc. But, be cautious of the photos you decide to share! You might be having a blast on your latest vacation, but a photo of your trip is also broadcasting that you are away from home. The photo of your new home theater that you got on Black Friday, the new watch you got for Christmas, etc., etc. provides burglars with a nice list of your home inventory. And the thing that you must believe, is that there are people who monitor social media for these specific purposes.
Feel free to check out our other home safety tips.