Did you watch the Sugar Bowl on January 1st? In between the game played by Alabama and Ohio State, was an entertaining series of commercials from Allstate. Mayhem, the trouble making character, discovers a couple, Matt and Shannon, has posted on their Facebook page they are out of town and attending the Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans. Mayhem takes the opportunity to break into the couple’s home and proceeds to sell all their earthly belongings.
The series of advertisements went viral on Twitter and Facebook, and garnered 20 million impressions in less than a day. While the ads were hilarious, the underlying message was very serious; criminals use our social media posts to target homes to break into.
I’ve noticed friends who’ve shared on their Facebook page a countdown to the start of their vacation followed by pictures of they do each day. I was guilty of the same thing over New Year’s Eve and day sharing photographs and who I was hanging out with at a cabin in Oklahoma. The downside of such sharing is we let people know we’re out of town for several days, which leaves us open to the same fate as Matt and Shannon.
We may know who our social media friends are, but do we know who their friends are? The average Facebook user has over 114,000 friends of friends which means many times we’re sharing with people we don’t even know. There are several things we can do to protect ourselves while sharing with our friends and family.
- Do complete the Facebook privacy update
- Don’t post a vacation countdown or post that you’re out of town, attending a game, concert, etc.
- Do share what happened on vacation when you get back
- Don’t post pictures of your new giant flat screen TV or other major purchases (why give a thief a reason to break in with an inventory of your personal property?)
- Do review who you’re friends with and consider making a group of “close friends” to share items of a more personal nature
- Do review your privacy settings to confirm you’re sharing things only with family or friends and not “publicly”
- Do review your Facebook tag settings so you can control who can tag you in their posts
- Do review who you share pictures with on iCloud or Flickr (are you sharing only with friends or are your photos shared with the public at large)
Continue to connect, share, tweet, and update your friends and family, but do so wisely because thieves are looking at social media too! What do you think? Share your thoughts, questions, and suggestions with us on our Google + and Facebook pages. I’d love to hear from you!