How Social Media Increases Your Chances of Being a Crime Victim

The culture has become increasingly more sensitive to crime in recent years. A big part of that increased sensitivity are the reported increases in violent crimes in major cities across the country. What many of us do not realize is that we might be increasing our own chances of being victimized by the way we use social media.

Social media has had an enormous impact on the way people communicate. It has given every internet user a voice in the global community. But with that voice comes the need to use it responsibly. That is where so many people fail. They use social media in ways that invite crime.

Burglars Use Social Media

You can do all the right things to protect your home and still invite burglars to victimize you through your careless use of social media. You can invest in a Vivint Smart Home security system, complete with professional monitoring, but still blow it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. People do it all the time.

A study conducted back in 2011 demonstrated that some 80% of burglars utilize social media as a tool for identifying targets. There is no reason to believe things are different today. Social media has only expanded over the last decade. And with more users come more opportunities to find easy targets.

3 Ways We Make Ourselves Vulnerable

So, how exactly do we make ourselves vulnerable with social media? To borrow from poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let us count the ways:

1. Location Tracking

Built-in GPS makes the typical smartphone a tracking device. Social media apps can use GPS information to identify user locations 24/7. So here’s the thing: if you allow your phone to check in on your social media channels whenever you visit a public place (like a café) you are revealing your location to burglars.

You may have your social media channels set up to ask before sharing your location. So what? Whether it is automatic or manual, sharing your location on social media is risky.

2. Showing off Your Bling

Unfortunately, one of the less redeeming aspects of social media is that it encourages narcissism. People use social media to show off their bling. That is not good. Just ask Kim Kardashian, who lost a $4.5 million engagement ring to burglars who were enticed to steal it after she posted it to Instagram. If you use social media to show off your bling, you are asking for trouble.

3. Posting Vacation Pics

Even those of us who do not consider ourselves narcissists seem to find it difficult to resist posting vacation pictures in real time. We want people to travel vicariously through us, so we share our pictures as we take them. But doing so only helps burglars figure out where we are. They know we are not home.

Bear in mind that there is enough data online for burglars to track down where you live. So if your vacation pics are telegraphing the fact that you’re thousands of miles away, they have every incentive to find your home address.

Privacy and Security Go Hand-in-Hand

We tend to think of maintaining security as a matter of investing in technology. Install a home security system and everything will be fine, right? Not necessarily. To be truly secure, we also need to make a point of maintaining the utmost privacy.

Social media flies in the face of privacy. It is an open invitation to not protect it. Avoid that temptation, or you just might find that not being private about your personal life is inviting criminals to pay you a visit.