Does social media pose a risk of home invasion?

I have observed that a number of my friends and family disclose on social media platforms that they are traveling.  This tells all of their connections that the individual, often their entire family and other friends are not home.  Certainly we all hope that those with whom we have connected through Facebook, Four Square, Twitter and LinkedIn are fine upstanding members of the community with no inclination to use disclosed travel plans as an impetus for theft or home invasion.  Nor would our friends disclose to others that our property is vulnerable.

In the recent past, I have seen a family member disclose that they and their extended family were traveling out of the country.  I have a friend on LinkedIn whose job requires trips away from home, leaving his wife and daughters home alone.  He uses TripIt to coordinate his itinerary which tells everyone with whom he is connected on LinkedIn of his upcoming travel plans.  Another family member recently published on Facebook that her daughter was having dinner in another state.  A friend on LinkedIn, frequently checks in using FourSquare telling his friends that he is enjoying a meal at a particular restaurant.  These posts are shared with his over 500 LinkedIn connections as well.  A heavy blogger recently blogged that he was on a scouting trip in another state complete with photos.  I have observed well meaning friends and family immediately post birth pictures from the bedside of the new mother.  One well-meaning mother-to-be published a daily countdown to the birth on Facebook.

Years ago, hospitals began delaying birth announcements until the family was out of the hospital to avoid publishing in the local newspaper that no one was home and the house might be filled with great new baby items.  Likewise, many brides and grooms delay their marriage announcement so as to not publish that they will be on their honeymoon and their home is filled with choice new wedding gifts.

We should all take precautions when it comes to protecting our person and property.  Buy appropriate levels of insurance and review that coverage whenever a life change takes place.  Lock your doors and windows when you leave the house.  Don’t leave your vehicle unattended when it is running nor should you leave your keys in an unlocked car.  Install a home monitoring system and use it.  The system should detect a break-in, fire and chemical buildup and then alert a monitoring service.

I encourage everyone to consider the risk of alerting the social media world that you are not home.  Social media is a great tool and allows wonderful sharing of images and ideas, but it does not have to be real-time.  Share events with your family and friends after the fact so that no risk is posed.

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