Due to the rise of social media, and especially the check-in features, we now have a lot of news reporting strange and funny stories with regard to burglars and social media. Learn about check-in services privacy.

The check-in feature

Foursquare has made the check-in feature popular: in fact, this is a function that lets you tell your friends (mainly) where you are. Then Twitter has also added the ability to add GPS position to your tweets (provided you are using a GPS-enabled device or phone).

As if that wasn’t enough to bring the check-in feature into the mainstream, Facebook has implemented Facebook places where not only can you indicate where you are, but you can even tell who are the friends you are hanging out with.

As you may guess, those social media platforms have become their own intelligence entity: if you have checked in to your favorite restaurant, chances are that you are not at home so they may want to try “visiting” you.

Is it safe?

So when a social media user is bragging about his awesome holidays on Facebook, for example, burglars just go to their profile and use some other intelligence approach to identify their house. Check this news report on how burglars are using Facebook updates to rob a home. Gone are the old days where burglars would buy information from postman and milkman so as to know who’s gone on holiday: they are now leveraging new technology.

Have you ever accepted friend requests on Facebook from people you barely know?

Now, let’s go deeper. Have you ever accepted friend requests on Facebook from people you barely know (or you don’t even know)? If it ever happened to you, then be careful about what you say on your status updates as, by default on Facebook, your friends happen to see all your status updates. So when you say you’re going out for the night to see a band playing, for example, it’s like telling a burglar: “here is the key to my house”. Don’t believe me? Check this “burglar in progress” video capture where the woman noted that “the burglar was my friend on Facebook”

So what is the takeaway from this video?

The most obvious thing is: don’t let everybody know when you’re going out. This couple has updated their Facebook status thereby allowing everybody to know where they are going to be, and how much time is it going to take.

Especially, if you are a smartphone user and your phone has some kind of GPS feature (or sometimes your GSM cell network can be enough), be careful when you are using applications like Twitter, Facebook, or Foursquare as they have some features where your GPS coordinates are attached to the updates that you make. Well, this feature can become handy if you are taking photos of the places you travel to (as it will exactly indicate where the photo has been taken), but, please, just don’t post those photos and updates in real-time: you’ll save yourself from a lot of troubles by doing so.

Do you know other case studies about how the use of social media can be used by bad guys to invade your privacy? If so, feel free to share them in the comment section.