Courtesy of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat – to name but a few – we are increasingly living digital lives, where we interact and engage with our friends and family online. Social media has, without a shadow of a doubt, become central to our way of life.


Social media stars

In a world of selfies, status updates, and a ceaseless stream of hashtags and likes, putting oneself as the star of one’s life has become a national pastime. Presumably, these social media outlets are simply helping us with self-expression, bringing us closer together, and giving a voice to those who previously felt unheard. There is a dangerous side to social media as well. Those in the public naive enough to believe we all have your best interest at heart are likely to find yourself an easy target for criminals.

What’s at stake

Not thinking about what and when you post information about yourself can lead to:

  1. Identity theft: Social media is paradise to identity thieves. People are constantly posting personal information about themselves, making it easily accessible to anyone who can view their account.
  2. Computer or social profile hacked: Did you remember to log out? You didn’t tell the browser to remember your credentials, did you? Keep your profile safe by setting strong passwords and reject letting your computer remember your password.
  3. Inadvertently letting stalkers find you: Posting your location lets people know where and when they can find you. Post what you did and where you did it after you have left.
  4. Letting burglars know your whereabouts: See above. Note that robbers will troll social media looking for people who will be away. Note that most people have multiple social media accounts and your personal information can be found on the yellow pages site or other directory. Just because you didn’t put your address on your Facebook account doesn’t mean it can’t be found elsewhere.
  5. Becoming overconfident: It CAN happen to you, and it most likely will if you become arrogant or overconfident. All it takes is forgetting to secure your information ONCE to become a victim.

Don’t be a target

Avoid being a victim. Remember these suggestions when posting or creating an account.

  • Have a strong password and make it long. It should have at least one capital letter, one lowercase letter, and use numbers and symbols to make it harder to guess.
  • Be careful with your status updates. Update your status after the event, not before or during.
  • Keep it vague: keep all information vague, don’t give last name, real age, real hometown, etc. if you don’t have to. Don’t mention your specific whereabouts.
  • Always be cautious. Don’t trust ANYBODY (not even your family and friends) with your personal information. They may not mean any harm, but they can also let slip that you’re going on vacation, or just got a high-paying new job, or that the whole family is attending a wedding, etc. and now you’ve been made vulnerable to attack.
  • Keep travel plans to yourself: post vacation pics after you return home, not while you are on vacation. Don’t announce you’ll be going to your friend/sister/brother’s wedding next month or whenever- you’ve just let robbers know you’re going to be out of your house.

Make sure you are cautious when using social media, you don’t want to make yourself susceptible to attacks just for likes on a post. Wait until you are home to post about vacations, and do not give out your personal information or current location. Social media can be fun, but it is also dangerous. You must look out for yourself online just as you would in public.