Forget The NSA. Burglars Are Watching Your Social Shares

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Safeguarding your privacy is important to protect yourself from online burglars.

While it’s certainly true that we talk a lot about safeguarding your privacy and free speech rights the importance of digital security there’s another data prowler to be concerned with. It’s not the FBI, CIA or NSA this time. Today, it’s burglars. Thieves and crooks are taking to social media to spy on your whereabouts.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by UK home security experts Friedland, 78 percent of criminals interviewed said they believed that social networks like Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare are being used by current criminals to target properties.

If you’re traveling on business, vacation or just on an evening out, your public social posts can be read and used to access your home and nab your electronic devices (that contain your personal data). Think twice about what you’re sharing. An innocent tweet about ocean side cocktails in Honolulu or a rolling feed on Facebook that updates your every move abroad is an open invitation for burglars to ransack your home.

Turn off GPS on your devices

We’ve shared how GPS tracking can invade your privacy, but it can be used to determine where you’re physically located and when too. Shut down GPS tracking on your apps and on your devices.

Don’t broadcast on social media

Despite pushing Google for the right to be forgotten, anything you post or tweet is pretty much part a permanent part of social media. Advanced search operators within social media platforms make it even easier to research someone’s past activity, including likes, photos, comments and more. The less you share the better off you are.

Stop sharing online photos

Travel selfies from a London pub are great to take, but resist the temptation to post. A good practice is to snap and save your photos and then go ‘postal’ (no, not that kind) by uploading and sharing after you return.

Not many people realize that when you take a photo to upload that it contains something called Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF). With EXIF, you photo contains not only everything about the photo (aperture, exposure, pixel width, etc.), but also the location.

Long story short, over-sharing online can expose you to others with nefarious intentions. Keep your information safe and take shares offline and in person if possible.

Photo Credit: elhombredenegro via CC

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Sarah Hartshorn is a marketing, public relations and social media professional with Vuze. She blogs about content, torrents, social media and a number of other tech topics. Sarah has been involved with traditional and digital marketing since 1998.