Commentary

Facebook, Twitter Expose Users to Burglary, Theft

Anecdotal evidence suggests that people who share their whereabouts on social media are exposing themselves to burglary and theft -- and there is now additional confirmation from insurance companies warning social media users against this type of over-sharing.

The most recent warning comes from Australia, where home insurance provider GIO found that 37% of Aussie social media users post their location when they are on vacation or post photos showing them in vacation spots, both of which can clue criminals in that they’re not at home. What’s more, 16% of Aussie social media users update social media on a daily basis about their movements, and 10% “check in” to a location-based social media platform, telling malefactors their precise whereabouts, according to a survey of 2,189 Aussies 18 and older conducted by Newspoll Market & Social Research.

GIO spokesman Duncan Bone was quoted in an Aussie newspaper: “Updating the world about when you're not at home is a very real and serious threat to your home and your belongings. You wouldn't put a sign on your front door advertising the fact that you're not at home, yet that is essentially what people are doing via social media. We at GIO are not discouraging people from using social media, but we do want people to think about whether their check-in or tweet is totally necessary. Social media may be free, but the consequences may very well turn out to be very expensive.”

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In March 2010 I wrote about a report from the Association of British Insurers warning that home insurance premiums may rise up to 10% due in part to an increase in home invasions resulting from people revealing their whereabouts on social networks. According to the ABI report, around 40% of British social network users post their holiday plans online, while roughly a third reveal their ordinary weekend plans.

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