5 Things to Know About Travel Safety and Social Media
You’re having a great vacation, and you want to share all the fun with friends and family back home. Unfortunately, posting photos and status updates to your social media accounts can put your travel safety at risk.
A survey by Nationwide Insurance found that 14 percent of homeowners use social media while on vacation; for those who range in age from 18 to 34, that percentage jumps to 41. Unfortunately, 78 percent of thieves also use social media to identify the location of their next break-in, according to Time Magazine.
Play it safe on your next vacation. Here are five things to know about social media and how it can affect your travel safety.
1. Don’t announce that you’re going on a trip.
Whether you’re trying to make friends jealous or asking for recommendations on attractions to see, keep your plans off social media. You don’t want to announce when your home will be empty. If you must tell people you’ll be traveling, have discreet conversations in person and ask anyone you tell to keep your plans private to help ensure your travel safety.
2. Disable location-identifying settings.
Even if you’re careful to not announce your plans, your smartphone, tablet, or laptop might undermine your safety. Most devices have geo-tagging technology that automatically identifies and tags the location from which you’re posting. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, also use geo-tagging. Be sure to disable this feature on your device and platform before you leave for your trip.
3. Prevent automatic tagging.
While you may have taken the steps to keep your plans off of social media, one of your friends or family members might unknowingly let people know you’re not home. If someone tags you in a photo, the information automatically posts to your Facebook profile and theirs. Check your Facebook privacy settings and enable the timeline review control. This will require your approval before you can be tagged in a photo or post.
4. Share everything — at the right time.
Feel free to upload all those photos and experiences to social media once you get home. Social media is meant to be a place to build relationships, and sharing parts of your life is how you do that. While you’re away, be mindful of checking in via Facebook or Foursquare, as these sites share your exact location on social media, telling everyone that you’re not home. Save the stories for when you’re back in town.
5. Regularly review your social media accounts.
Many platforms change privacy settings from time to time, so be sure to periodically review your settings, especially before you leave home for an extended time. It’s also a good idea to review your friends list and only connect with people you know and trust. Or, if you prefer, use settings like Facebook’s “Close Friends” list that allow you to share things only with certain groups.
Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a totally private social media account. Even if you use security settings, you still may be at risk of having personal information shared with unintended audiences. Just be diligent about what you can protect, and make sure you err on the side of caution. Peace of mind is the best thing you can pack on any vacation.