Lori Getz: Did you hear about the Arizona man who tweeted about being on vacation -- then came home to find his house had been robbed? Well, I did, and it started me thinking about how publicly we live our lives, and questioning whether or not it's a dangerous lifestyle.
So I did some investigating. I pulled up Twitter's search engine and typed "vacation." Simple enough. I quickly learned that on the day of my search, six people were either traveling to or traveling back from vacation. I then Googled a few of them and actually found two home addresses linked to the users on vacation. Could it be that easy? Yep!
Now for those of you who are concerned that I am giving the thieves ideas, it's too late. These thieves are not even cloaked in black ski masks hiding in the dark shadows. They are just hanging out online in places where people are talking about their "status."
Teenagers use Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace as their social calendars and keep their friends up to date about where they are going and what they are doing at all times. It's pretty voyeuristic, but it is reality. We need to mention to them that it is NOT a good idea to post private information in their status bars.
Now, do I fault Twitter for the man in Arizona's trouble? Of course not! That would be like being upset at my house if I decided to post a note on the front door saying I'm gone for the week, and then come home to find the place was ransacked.
Twitter is a powerful tool, and it has been instrumental in changing how we disseminate information -- worthy information. In fact, when the attacks in Mumbai occurred, you could follow it live on Twitter with real-time updates from people experiencing the event. (Not to mention the recent Iran protests, where Twitter was instrumental in not only keeping Iranians informed, but updating U.S. media.) PR firms and marketing gurus love their ability to send out tweets about the latest update or event. In fact, I'll be sending out a tweet of my own when this article is published.
It's not that we need to stop using this social medium, we just need to be thoughtful about how we use it. None of this has to be dangerous. We just need to be well informed of the risks in order to make the best decision possible. Me, personally, I think I'll keep the vacation information off the 'net, just to be safe!
|Lori Getz is the founder of Cyber Education Consultants and speaks to students, parents and educators about Internet safety, security and ethics. She has a Master of Arts in Educational Technology from San Diego State University and is certified by isafe.org as an Internet Safety Specialist. Her mission is to help bridge the gap between a young generation of digital natives and their parents and teachers. She is the mother of one and lives in Los Angeles with her husband.|