Social media is everywhere today. We use it constantly to stay in touch with our friends and family, to have an internet presence, to gain followers, and just to have fun. However, depending on how you use social media, you could be putting yourself at a much greater risk than you realise. One of the things most lacking in people’s education is how to keep themselves safe on social media.
We all know the basic rule of social media: don’t share your personal information, but this rule is often ignored. We’re happy to input information like our names and date of birth without realising that we’re releasing personal information, but what about our addresses? You’d be surprised how easy it is to make the mistake of putting in your address on social media and suddenly making your home or current location a lot less secure. When you release information about where you are, you make it much easier for people to find you; and those people might not always have great intentions.
Most social media platforms have some kind of “check in” feature. When you “check in”, your phone or computer uses your GPS to share your current location. We would advise against checking in while you’re at home, because doing so releases a fairly good estimate of your address to your social media friends and followers. If you’re someone who only adds your real-life friends on social media, then you’ll likely be fine checking in using your GPS location, but some people prefer adding all kinds of people to gain more followers, and it’s doing this that could make you unsafe.
Similarly, checking in elsewhere might seem fun, but if you’ve published your address and you’re checking in that you’re not at home, it publishes to all followers that your home is potentially empty, creating a security risk. If you enjoy checking in, or need to do this for a work reason you shouldn’t have to stop this, look at installing a smart home security system to alert you of any breaches in security at your home wherever you are in the world.
Another way to be cautious with who sees what online is by changing your privacy settings. All social media platforms will let you do this by going into settings and finding the privacy setting. On sites like Facebook, you’ll be able to make it so you only receive messages from people you know, and it will filter the rest in your “other” or “filtered” message folders. You can also set up your profile so that only your friends, or friends of your friends can see your profile. Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are a little trickier, because their platforms are so open, but there are some privacy features, especially on Instagram, where you can lock your profile from being seen unless people ask you if they can follow your account.
Social media is a communication tool, by following these few key steps, you can make sure that you and your home stay safe and secure.