Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind before pressing ‘Post’:
Update the privacy settings:
All social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – including dating apps have privacy settings. Residents can restrict their location for automatically posting or filter who can or cannot see their posts.
Filter the friends
When it comes to friends and followers, Tilley suggests residents be as picky with social media followers as they are with house guests. “Treat it as you would if you were inviting someone into your home. Are you really going to invite somebody into your home that you really don’t know?” he said.
Follow the updates
Social media platforms tend to update regularly, and though the terms and conditions can be lengthy, it’s important residents stay away of changes to their apps and adjust accordingly.
Over the weekend, SnapChat, a popular social media platform, came under fire for its latest application update.
By zooming out on a devise, the new Snap Map location setting allows users to see the exact location of their followers and friends, which several users have deemed an invasion of privacy.
People of all ages tend to live their lives on apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, unaware that many criminals are using these apps to plot their next victim. But by “going ghost” or updating privacy settings, residents can save themselves from a possible home invasion.
Plano PD spokesman David Tilley said in a recent rash of home burglaries, criminals “were using social media platforms to locate their victims and the biggest thing we were telling people was turn your location services off…because that’s how they were able to find these victims, through their location.”
Officers also notice several robberies happen from one-on-one meet-ups on Craigslist, a popular website for selling clothes, furniture and other goods person to person. Through Craigslist, people don’t have to establish detailed profiles, like with a Facebook or Twitter account, so it’s much easier for a criminal to hide their identify. So most residents will set up a time and place to meet with a potential buyer or seller, then end up the victim of a robbery.
To avoid a possible robbery, several police agencies nationwide have set up “safe-zones” for residents to meet up and exchange goods without the fear of being robbed by a stranger. The “safe-zones” are well lit, secure, surveillanced areas, so if wrongdoing occurs, police have a solid chance of catching the culprit.
Also, criminals are using dating sites like Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish and more to take advantage of vulnerable residents to scam them out of hundreds or thousands of dollars. In some instances, overseas scammers will claim they need money to return to the states after they’ve built a connection with the victim, while others will lure residents away from their homes to go on a date, then rob their home while they’re away.
As a rule of thumb, officers suggest residents never share their location on social media, and keep a watchful eye on who they friend and follow.
“I don’t recommend anybody ever post anything as far as where they’re going to be or post anything as far as where they are,” Tilley said. And the same goes for vacation photos.
Also, without the proper security settings, it’s hard to tell who can and cannot view a resident’s seemingly private posts. Depending upon how residents have their privacy settings, a friend’s friend could be a criminal, “so if you’re posting that you’re in Las Vegas and they know that your house is unsecured, that’s a way of setting yourself up for a potential burglary,” Tilley said.
Though it goes against common customs, Tilley suggest residents save their Night Out photos and vacation posts until after they’ve returned home.
“Anytime that you use the Internet, especially social media, you have to be wary and you’ve got to use caution because, many times, you’re dealing with people that you don’t always know who they are,” Tilley said,” so you just have to be very, very cautious.”