By Michelle McCann
Sharing information on social media is fun and can be beneﬁcial to your business, but sharing information that is too frequent, too personal, or too speciﬁc can make you an easy target for anyone who wants to do you harm.
As use of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat becomes more common, the risks associated with these sites increase. Here are ﬁve practical tips to help you protect yourself when using social media.
1. Don’t ﬂaunt your valuables.
Social media isn’t the place to post pictures of your latest expensive gadget or your sparkly engagement ring. Sharing photos of your valuables online allows strangers to know more about you than they otherwise would. What may seem like a harmless photo could make you a target for a thief.
2. Don’t overshare personal information.
Sharing personal details—such as your birthdate, your children’s or pet’s names, or where you went to high school or college—on social media can be risky. This kind of information may give cyber stalkers exactly what they need to answer the security questions you use to identify yourself online and enable them to gain access to your passwords, your money, or your identity. Never post anything in your profile that you wouldn’t want a stranger to know.
3. Don’t reveal the pattern of your life.
Your social media posts can reveal not only who you are and what you own but also the pattern of your life. Regularly posting thoughts about your morning drive to work or what time you go to the gym each evening could tip oﬀ a potential stalker about where you go and when you aren’t home and put you in physical danger.
4. Don’t broadcast your location.
Location-based services and geotagging reveal your exact location. For example, using Facebook’s check-in feature when you are at restaurants, movies, or public events shares with strangers the fact that you are not home. Also, as excited as you are about your travels, announcing your approaching ten-day vacation can make your home an easy target. For the same reason, it is also unwise to post or live-stream that you are showing a vacant listing all alone. These kinds of posts can let the wrong people know where you are, where you aren’t, and how long you will be away. Using a safety app to let a few close friends know where you are and when you plan to return is a wise precaution. Using social media to let everyone know where you are and when you plan to return is asking for trouble.
5. Don’t skip safety protocols to pursue leads.
Getting leads from social media is great, but it also leaves you vulnerable to meeting with people who might not be who they say they are. Practice safety protocols with all leads. Meet prospects ﬁrst in your oﬃce rather than at the property you plan to show. Before going anywhere, scan the client’s identiﬁcation and ﬁll out a Prospect Identiﬁcation Form. Either drive the client in your car or travel in separate cars to the property. And never take shortcuts with personal safety.