It’s growing increasingly difficult to name a single aspect of society or our individual lives that hasn’t been at least slightly influenced by the remarkable surge in social media over the last decade. With over 1.15 billion people using Facebook alone, it’s no surprise that the world we live in is greatly different from the world of the 90’s or even immediately after the turn of the century. While this rapidly expanding technology has provided countless benefits to users and the world at large, it has also opened the door for a considerable lack of privacy. Home security is one of the realms most visibly affected by the developing world of social media, with homeowners, communities and burglars all adapting to the growing trend in different ways. Take a look at the following examples of different demographics changing their home security practices based on social media:
Across all platforms of social media, it’s becoming a trend to include location data when you post a status, photo, poll or bulletin. While this practice does offer a certain degree of increased personalization to your posting, it also may be putting you in danger. According to this infographic, social media platforms use coordinates contained in your phone’s GPS system, metadata from images captured or “check-ins” at established businesses, destinations or venues to display your whereabouts. If your home is being cased by someone who has access to your social media presence, they will be able to determine when you aren’t home based on this data. Further, if they know where you live, they can do a reasonably accurate job of estimating how long you’ll be gone, providing them with the perfect opportunity to strike.
While social media certainly has the capacity to be turned against the user for the purpose of gaining personal information, it is also becoming more commonly utilized for safety purposes. For example, the Spring Hills Homeowners Association in the Oklahoma City area has launched a website and Facebook page to aid in stopping a series of burglaries occurring in their neighborhood. According to Tribune Company affiliate KFOR Oklahoma City, homeowners have adopted the motto “see something, say something” to describe their usage of the social media platform page for reporting suspicious activity. These sorts of social media components to neighborhood watch programs are becoming more and more popular.
Regrettably, one of the most frequently used features of social media is also among those with the highest potential to pose a detriment to your home security. Posting about an upcoming road trip, vacation or business trip, while enticing, can have the unfortunate effect of letting those who may be monitoring your moves know that your home will be vacant. Even worse, posting about these trips with a date range, as many of us often do, can let these individuals know exactly how long they’ll have to work with if they decide to rob your home. In addition to not posting about a vacation, remember to also take the necessary home protection steps offline. Have a neighbor gather your mail to keep it from building up, put interior lights on timers and alert the non-emergency line at your local police precinct of your absence, as they may be able to check in on the house periodically.