The risk of checking-in

The risk of checking-in

Do you always check into your favorite bar or coffee shop on Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp, or any number of applications that let you make similar announcements of where you are and what you like. Checking-in might sound like a great idea but it might not be a safe idea especially when these  activities can incorporate precise GPS coordinates.

There are significant risks that come along with such social media activity that must be managed very carefully.

Revealing addresses. When you check in or post status or photo that incorporates GPS coordinates, you can be pinpointing exact addresses. If you do this at your home or those of your friends, you reveal those home locations to the public, exposing yourself and your loved ones to burglary or worse.[more…]

Not at home. When you are checked in at a restaurant, your friends knows that you are not at home, so do potential social-networking thieves. If they know or are able to determine where you live, they know the chance to invade your home.

Things to steal. You just bought a new TV or car or watch and you want your friends to know. But when you photo on Instagram or Twitter — venues where anyone can follow you and see what you post — there are lots of strangers who now know that you own this new valuable thing. And if you’ve previously revealed your address, you could be in trouble. This has been an issue for the children of the insanely wealthy, but it could become one for you, too, if you’re not careful.

Children’s safety.The potential threat exists when children reveal their whereabouts. If your kid is checking in at a public location or even at home, they are potentially putting themselves in danger by letting the predators to know their location.

So how should you use these popular check-in apps?

  • First, check in only using services where you are sharing that information with a small and closed circle of friends.
  • Second, don’t activate — or actively deactivate, if it’s already activated — the geolocation functionalities of that are included in Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and don’t link your Foursquare account to your Twitter account.
  • Finally, if you have children, talk to them about how to use these apps and stress to them the importance of never sharing their location on social media, whether it is through GPS information or written status updates.

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