LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - I see it all the time on Facebook. "Joe Smith just checked in to Galleria-Dallas with Sarah Smith, Ben Robbins, and Jason Rogers. 'Having a blast on vacation! Just 3 more days left!'"
Check-ins via social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare during travel could tip thieves off, so it's important to set your privacy settings accordingly.
Let's say you check in to a restaurant on Facebook while you're in your hometown visiting your folks. "Jessica Johnson just checked in to The Root Cafe. 'Love this place!'" After it's posted, it's followed by a few likes and a few comments from your Facebook friends.
Here's the kicker. When others "like" or comment on your check-in, there's a good chance, your "private" post could end up on one of their Facebook friend's news feed. "Sarah Smith liked Jessica Johnson's check-in at The Root Cafe."
Your "private" check-in may not be so private anymore. It's important to remember to select your audience when checking in somewhere with your phone or on the desktop site. The options available are "Public," "Friends," and "Only Me."
The default audience setting when checking in is "Public." In order to not broadcast that you're out of town or away from your home to everyone on Facebook, select "Friends" or "Only Me." By selecting "Friends," your check-in will not appear in anyone else's news feed besides your friends'.
Now, let's talk about Twitter and Foursquare. Foursquare is a geo-location-type social media app. Its benefits include checking in to restaurants and possibly getting discounts, letting your friends know where you are, reading reviews on businesses, and more.
Internet marketing and social media expert Don Crowther notes that with the ability to connect Foursquare to your Twitter account, if your tweets are public, anyone could see if you're away from your home... just by searching "4sq."
I put this to the test.
I logged into my Twitter account, searched "4sq" and there I had it. All Twitter-connected Foursquare check-ins appeared in chronological lists that included "Top," "All," and "People you follow." If I click on the Foursquare link provided in the tweet, I can see exactly which Apple Store location or which Walmart Supercenter location that person was visiting.
A trend I noticed in the Foursquare tweets looked a little something like this: "@soandso1 So glad to be in my own bed! 4sq.com/lkjds9d." If you're checking in at home, it's best to select the "Residence" category, followed by "Home (Private)." This way no one can know the exact address of your home.
Crowther writes that when he did the "4sq" test he selected one of those tweets, then googled that Tweep's name and location. The first result that appeared was his resume, which included his phone number.
Checking in on social media platforms can be fun. It allows our friends to know what cool things we're up to or what delicious food we're eating while we're away, but it might be best to check and double check your privacy settings before doing so. And if you don't feel 100 percent about the privacy, maybe avoid checking into places while you're vacationing.
-Written by Jessica Johnson, THV 11 Social Media Coordinator. Twitter: @jess_icajohnson
Related links and further reading:
WAFB: Checking in on Facebook comes with hidden dangers
Street Articles: Checking in on Facebook can be dangerous
Tech News Daily: Social media status updates tip off burglars, study shows
Reputation.com: Top 5 Social Media Privacy Concerns 2012
Social Media Today: Common Sense and Online Privacy Issues
DonCrowther.com: Do you really want to be THAT transparent?