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Watch what you tweet as you head out of town for your summer vacation.
With mere hours left in the school year, legions of families are planning vacations, reunions and wedding trips across the continent and around the globe. And in this age of over-sharing, you know they're talking about it with friends and family on blogs, facebook and twitter.
Youmay think you're doing the sharing with just your friends and family, but really you're giving a lot of information about your life to people you don't know.
I don't mean to go all 6 O'Clock Action News on you, spreading irrational fear and terror into the hearts and minds of Canadians coast-to-coast, but our behaviour in online social networking just might be the sort of thing to lead criminals right to our doorstep.
I did a quick twitter search for some keywords that might lead to people planning vacations and announcing to the public how long they plan to be out of town. I tried "out of town" or "on vacation", "back july." and found these: (I won't totally identify and out the tweeters to save them some privacy)
"Going to Florida today!!! Be back on June 30 or July 1! ...I might twitter updates lol"
"Out-of-town for work for one more night."
"lmao @ my wonderful mom. she gave me the keys to her house cause she going out oftown..but took the keys to the benz right of...lmao"
"Celebrating completion of The Non Pro cutting project. 16 straight days and counting...3 more before I go on vacation"
"about to go on vacation to a friends lake house, cant wait, ski'ing chilling just relaxing much needed"
"Thanks Andy..Just added some other stuff for Radio. Will be back July 3rd. Hold the fort down bro"
All a thief needs to do is a few cross checks between info left on theTwitter bio with Facebook, Google searches and a phone book and it shouldn't be too difficult to track down a neighborhood with a house where the plants will need a little watering and the computers could be removed.
I'm not blowing things out of proportion either, there's already been at least one case of robbery because of Twitter as Israel Hyaman, an Arizona video podcaster, admits his excessive tweeting of personal information could have given thieves more than enough info to carry out their plan.
So what can you do? Here are some common sense things you already know, but should be reminded of, to protect yourself this summer:
lock down your profile privacy settings so only people you know can see
eliminate address and phone number information from your profiles and stream
use direct message to send personal info to old friends you're catching up with or family members who need it - don't put it on facebook walls or twitter stream
wait until after the vacation to share what you did, instead of what you're doing while you're away
stop sharing so much!
catch the buzz ... pass it on.