It’s that time of year again when the whole of Britain seems to pack up and jet off on holiday, leaving behind the gloomy weather and a sea of jealous friends and work colleagues. Another trend of recent years is to take the customary airport picture, which is normally accompanied by an alcoholic drink or two.
This picture is often uploaded onto a person’s social media account with a geolocation tag such as @Gatwickairport. We’ve all seen these and many of us may have even shared a similar status. Over the next few weeks the first #airportpicture is normally followed by multiple holiday snaps, such as the #hotdogslegs pose.
So, what’s the problem? Isn’t this what social media was designed for - to share our day-to-day activates and communicate with close friends and family?
Well yes, that’s exactly what social media is designed for - and if the only people we were sharing this information with were close friends and family it would be harmless. Yet quite often that’s not the case. For instance, how well do you know the people on your Facebook friends list? Are they really part of your close social network?
Facebook has been a part of our lives since 2004 and if you’re anything like we are, you could be connected to people you’ve long since lost meaningful contact with; old school friends for instance, or an old work colleague from your first job. Let’s not forget: if your privacy settings aren’t being manged correctly, you could be sharing this information with just about anybody.
It’s not just our summer holiday updates we share on our favourite social media platforms.
Remember when you shared that proud picture of yourself outside your first new home on moving day? It’s a significant moment in anyone’s life. #movingday #newhome #firsttimebuyer #soproud.
How about when you got your new car and just had to show your friends on Facebook? #newcar #newwhip #newwheels #newride
We seem to be so comfortable sharing these life moments online… but have the consequences been thought out?
Did you know there are over 20 data broker websites in the UK sharing your personal information online, including your full address? If you have registered to vote than this information is very likely available for free and anyone can access it. Google yourself, search for your name and town of residence and see how long it takes you to find your full address online. It’s literally a two minute exercise before you have hold of this sensitive information.
Let’s put the pieces together. For the past two weeks on social media you’ve been counting down to your holiday and sharing it online.
You then notify people the exact time you have left and how long you will be gone for.
You then share the obliquity #airportpic with check in and obviously the status updates from the tarmac touch down followed by various pictures of your impressive hotel suite and swimming pool.
Now everyone you are connected to - whether you would call them a close connection or not – is familiar with the details of your movements and more significantly the fact you will not be at home for two weeks and your car, property and contents will be unsupervised.
You’ve previously shared pictures of your house and your car on your social media profiles and if that’s not enough your exact address isn’t hard to obtain when sites such as 192.com, ukdata.com and mylife.com share this information for free.
With very little research - and information you have freely shared - any opportunistic criminal would have all the information they needed to carry out a burglary/theft against you and your family
Even if you implicitly trust your contact list on your chosen social media profiles, you don’t have to be connected to people for them to see a snapshot of your update and basic personal information.
Try searching for #manchesterairport, #gatwickairport, or #heathrowairport on Facebook posts and just look at how many people have shared their #airportpics and haven’t manged their privacy settings correctly. This information is available to complete strangers.
We should be a lot more mindful about the information we share online, as we don’t know who may be watching. Try posting your holiday pictures after you arrive back home, take your obligatory #airportpic but maybe only send it on to your friends and family on your WhatsApp groups, and refrain from GeoTagging. It’s just too much information to share and not worth the risk. Ensure your privacy settings are set to maximum too. Here’s a quick guide you can use https://goo.gl/wCvsK3
Also Take A Look Out Our Free Online Guide To Protecting Yourself Online