Social media: another window to climb into

By Zaina Salem, Managing Editor

Social media use is growing every day, and with it comes a new tool for potential burglars.

Around 78 percent of former burglars use Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to find empty houses, according to a study from Credit Sesame in the United Kingdom.

These social media sites allow users to share their specific location via technology such as Google Street View.  By simply posting one’s location on social media, burglars can uncover important information.

A search on Facebook or Twitter can tell burglars the kind of device someone is using, where that person lives, and how long he or she is likely to be away from home.

Facebook’s “open graph” search allows burglars to target potential victims, especially users who do not have a private account. These sites show where a user last posted by tagging locations and coordinates. If a burglar knows where someone lives and where that person currently is, the burglar will also know that person’s house is empty.

There are ways to prevent a burglar from entering a home due to postings on social media.

One thing to consider is to refrain from using social media while on vacation, and also to avoid announcing that one is going to be out of town. Although it’s tempting to do during the trip, pictures can always be posted afterward.

One can also avoid sharing location information. Fifteen percent of Americans use social media to report they left their home, and 35 percent of Americans age 18 to 34 check-in or tweet about their location, according to a poll conducted by MetLife Auto & Homes.

Other preventatives include never sharing an address, only sharing information with friends—not friends of friends—and never taking photos of something new and expensive and posting them online.

Being aware of these dangers and cautious of what one posts online can ultimately prevent burglaries that start through social media.