In the whirl of sharing with the world online, there can be unforeseen consequences to the messages we blast out on the Internet. Travelocity.com has put together a study about the perils of social networking when you are on vacation. According to its recent poll, 30 percent of people haven't given any thought to taking precautions posting to a social network site when they are away from home. Those erring on the side of caution, posting limited details, make up about 27 percent of the survey group. Finally, about 40 percent of the people asked will have nothing to do with posting on social media sites while they are away.
Social media mavens beware
There are a few reasons why you should hold off from posting the latest and greatest details from your vacation until you get back. It advertises to everyone that you are not home. That means your unoccupied residence is that much more vulnerable to people who are trolling the web for personal information. Yes, they are out there and they are simply waiting for an opportunity. Before you post, think hard about the content of your post and if it can be used by someone in a criminal activity, such as identity theft.
In a recent report, Aladdin Knowledge Systems, an online security provider, identified that organized crime may start targeting your online persona. The damage that can spin out from this is substantial. From personal relationships to difficulties gaining employment and even losing customers or corporate data, your exposed Internet persona can have a very real impact on your life.
Tips for social networking while away from home
If you simply can't wait to tweet or Facebook about your travels before you return, consider these tips from the Travelocity folks:
- Establish rules about how much you'll share, and ensure everyone in your household is on the same page.
- Never share details about dates you'll be away or children who will be left home alone.
- Switch off the "add location to your tweets" function if you're tweeting while on vacation.
- Disconnect Foursquare from your Twitter and Facebook accounts, so it doesn't update those sites when you check in. Better yet, don't check in.
Post up a storm upon your return
When you get back from the trip, by all means fire away. You can upload your vacation videos to YouTube and post the link on Twitter or embed it on Facebook so friends and family can watch. Use the geotag function on photo sharing sites like Flickr to show the world where you've been. You can even blog about your trip and add interest facts to your posts with your photos and videos. If you happen to be the strong, silent type, blogging platforms such as Tumblr are great for quick posts with just photos or a few comments.
Bottom Line: Protect your online persona
So, it goes without saying that social networking is here to stay and there are a great number of good things that come with new ways to connect. Like any technology, however, there are also opportunities for those with less than good intentions to take advantage of the information you share online.
Protecting yourself means thinking about what you put out there and managing your Internet persona on all the various social network sites that are at your disposal. Tweet safe.
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