Working in news can make you a little crazy. Since I know how much information reporters gather through social media, I am a tad bit psycho about what I share online. While it does seem like I share a lot, and I do… I am also pretty strategic about certain details of my life. I think if you are putting yourself out there on social media, there are a few safety tips you should at least consider.
1. Check settings on photo apps: Most people have their “location” turned off of their photo setting on their phone, but there are so many other ways you are sharing your exact location without even realizing it. A big offender is the Instagram photo map. If your profile is public, ANYONE can check out your photo map and get a good idea of the areas your frequent. Your favorite restaurants, parks… it’s all on there. To check your photo map, just go to your profile page and click the little map arrow button. Depending on your settings, you may see nothing (how mine is) or you may see hundreds of your favorite locations mapped out for everyone to see. To get those pictures off and fix the settings, just check out this explainer from Instagram.
Another big offender is SnapChat. This allows people to see where you and your kids are at that very moment. Sometimes, I just don’t want that, so I put my phone on airplane mode. That way my snaps will “save” but will fail to actually post. Later or when I get home, I just turn the wi-fi back on and repost all those snaps. Boom.
2. Don’t share your kids school information: First day of school pictures are so cute. I love them. But some of the pictures freak me out. I can find out SO much from some of these pictures. Is the school in the background? Is the school name on their shirt? Did you put the teacher’s name on your super cute “Back to School” chalkboard sign? Things you should consider if you have a public Facebook page. Also lots of schools have Facebook pages now, so I see people sharing weekly school calendars or school specific information simply because it includes a picture of their child.
3. Check your picture backgrounds: You may want to think twice before posting a “full frontal” (heehee) picture of your home. Anyone can find where you live with that house number and a tiny bit of research with the help of google street view. Working in news, we track down plenty of people we want to interview by seeing just a quick shot of their home or by a picture. This goes for your car as well. You shouldn’t show your license plate.
4. Don’t share nude pictures of your children: I know, I know toddlers are adorable and often naked. There should be nothing wrong with an cute baby running around sans clothes on your Instagram feed. However, there is a select group of sick people who search out these pictures and repost them in disturbing forums. It does happen. I work in news and have read enough arrest reports to know that police find crap on computers that well-meaning moms shared with the intent that it is only seen by friends and family. Until it isn’t.
The truth is, people can easily find out personal details about you and your family no matter how careful you are on social media. It is just the world we live in today. I’m not telling you this to scare you, just to make you aware. I love social media and I have no problem sharing information about my family and you shouldn’t either, as long as you take a few precautions.