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Vacation vs. Social Networks

This article was written by in Consumer. 6 comments.


Summertime is traditionally when most people take their annual vacations, and since the social media explosion, more aspects of a given person’s vacation will end up as photos on Flickr, or “wish you were here” messages on Facebook.

I’m a big fan of openness (with the obvious exception of my use of a pseudonym on this site), and so I’m a little sad, though not surprised, to see at least one victim of a burglary who suspects his tweeting about being on vacation is the cause of his trouble.

The Trouble

“We had mentioned that we were going out of town for an extended period and even Twittered about the trip as we drove for three days,” he told an Arizona television station. While he was gone, video editing equipment was stolen from his home.

The Subtleties

My first reaction was to assume that the man in the story has some people following him on Twitter who aren’t exactly friendly. But then I remembered that anybody can do a search on Twitter for a phrase like “vacation” and find results like these:

Master Chase on vacation

Then, if you can cross-reference a likely victim with their address found online, and you have criminal tendencies, then you know which house to burglarize.

Additionally, many Twitter apps (and possibly for other services) have the option of finding your current location and looking nearby for specific criteria.

The Solution(s)

Take an inventory of which of your information can be found online easily. Some starting points:

  • Is your username the same as your real name?
  • Are you and your address listed in the phone book?
  • Does your wireless router know where it’s located? Does it broadcast that location?
  • Is your profile public? Do you want to keep it that way?
  • Are you on LinkedIn? How much of that profile is public?
  • and so on…

You may decide that a simple solution would be to keep the vacation secret until you get home, but remember, even if you decide to avoid the magic word “vacation” in your own online updates, your friends may inadvertently be helping potential burglars:

other vacation

Going on a trip? Keep tweets discreet, Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle, July 6, 2009

Updated December 22, 2011 and originally published July 7, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar the weakonomist

These stories make me think of Carlos Mencia, deh deh deh!

I expect nothing less from us Americans. We are this stupid.

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avatar Matt Jabs

I’ve said before & I’ll say again… Think before you tweet!

When information is made public, criminal activity needs to be a consideration. One more reason to walk softly & carry a big stick!

Something not addressed that bears mentioning is the importance of developing & maintaining healthy relationships with your neighbors, and others in your community.

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avatar Andy

Here’s a great idea. Don’t Tweet!

Odds are no one really cares anyway.

Instead, spend a few minutes a day talking to your neighbors. The real people that live next door to you and can watch your home when you are gone.

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