How to Use Facebook Places without Getting Robbed
In the wake of the arrest of a three-man burglary ring in Mass. that used social networking sites to find their victims, Facebook and other location-based services have come under fire.
The possible dangers of broadcasting locations on sites such as Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter may be valid, but may also be misleading.
Simply posting that you're at a party or away for the weekend is not enough information to make you the victim of a burglary. Either you've posted your address in your user profile and failed to restrict access to only people you know and trust, or your friends are criminals.
Facebook has been cited most frequently in this report for two reasons. The first is that Facebook Places, the site's new location service just launched last month. It's new and buzzworthy. Secondly, Facebook has more than 500 million users compared with Twitter's 145 million users and Foursquare's three million users. Hence, this safety guide is based on Facebook, but you can apply the similar principles wherever you decide to "check-in" on other services.
Here's how to enjoy the social benefits of location-based services without endangering your safety:
- Do not include your home address in social networking profiles and set your general privacy settings to "Friends only".
- The default setting in Facebook for check-ins is "Friends only" but because most Facebook users have friends that are really only acquaintances or connected loosely to other friends, it's important to customize this setting. Open the dropdown menu associated with "Places I check in" and select "Customize." Add friends whom you know and trust.
- Next you'll need to adjust the "People Here Now" setting, because although you've limited your check-ins to specific people, anyone who checks in to a location where you have already checked in will see that you are there. Uncheck the box next to "Include me in 'People Here Now' after I check in."
- Finally, consider blocking the ability for friends to check you into a location to avoid practical jokes or worse. Go to the "Things others share" section, select the dropdown box associated with "Friends can check me in to Places" and select "Disabled."
Now that Facebook is safe, leave a light on, lock your doors and have fun.
- Facebook Adds 'Remote Log Out' Security Tool
- Tips for Protecting Your Online Reputation
- Broadband Speeds Only Half of Advertised Speed