What Not To Post

Israel Hyman blames his home burglary — wherein he lost thousands of dollars of video gear — on Twitter.  That’s because, as he drove from his Arizona home to his Kansas City destination, he tweeted about the drive and, easy-peasy, any malefactor could deduce that it was prime time to rob Mr. Hyman’s abode. …and indeed that is what apparently happened.

As the AP observed, “Most people wouldn’t leave a recording on a home answering machine telling callers they’re on vacation for a week, and most people wouldn’t let mail or newspapers pile up while they were away. But users of social media think nothing of posting real-time vacation photos on Facebook, or sending out automatic e-mail messages that say, ‘I’m out of the country for a week.'”

Classic advice of course when going out of town is to stop newspaper deliveries, stop the mail, ask a neighbor to pick up doorway flyers, etc. — basically to cover up the absence so as not to appear a ripe target for burglars.  Social media, with their question, “What are you doing now?”, seem to turn this on its head, by imploring users to offer minute by minute updates and indeed that intel is fodder for bad guys.

A San Francisco Chronicle reporter offers more insight: “Joanne McNabb, chief of the California Office of Privacy Protection, says she hasn’t received any complaints from people who think they were robbed because they disclosed their whereabouts on social networks. But, she says, ‘It’s a risk in the online world just like in the offline world.’ Robbers have long been known to scour the newspaper for death or wedding announcements and target homes when families are likely to be at the funeral or on a honeymoon. ‘It’s not that these Web 2.0 things are creating new crimes. They are providing some new vectors or venues for the crimes that can happen anyway,’ McNabb says.”

Bottomline: stay mum about travels and, our advice, is don’t send out a tweet that proclaims, “Just sat down at Babbo for a tasting menu, buckled up for a three hour dinner.”  Right there you’ve provided your timeline.  Wait until you’re home, then Tweet.  That’s the safe route.

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