By Miguel C. Gil
Social networking sites may be a definitive realization of futurist and author Alvin Toffler’s vision of a “global village.”
With the press of a few buttons, we can get in-touch with relatives, old friends and classmates whom we haven’t seen in decades. While intended for “social” use, these sites can also open many doors for entrepreneurs, big and small, because it offers them a free promotional tool with worldwide access. Many consider Facebook and Twitter manna from “cyber heaven!”
Social networking sites, however, can be a double-edged sword!
As their initial novelty fades, in its place is the widely accepted perception that these sites are an absolute necessity. Like a narcotic, many people today cannot function normally without their daily fix of Facebook or Twitter. For these people, life without them is tantamount to social death.
Because of this perception-driven dependence, many people, particularly the youth, freely and unthinkingly pour out the most intimate details of their lives in cyberspace. This has exposed many individuals and their respective families to untold shame! But of greater interest to us is the personal security risk created by such unrestricted outflow of household information. Such information may easily be exploited by persons or groups with criminal intent.
A veteran lawman told us that you can save weeks or even months of hard sleuthing if your “subject” happens to be active in social networking sites! The same lawman revealed that many evil schemes have been foiled because the suspects gave away details of their intended crimes in FB! Going over the FB accounts of persons of interest is now standard practice of intelligence and law enforcement agencies, we are told.
But what works for the authorities may also work for criminals! So, make a conscious effort to conceal details that may compromise the security of your household. Do not reveal your daily routine. Do not let people know when a family member is home alone. Do not reveal what valuables you have at home or other financial information. And do not divulge information about the home security preparations you have made.
You can unknowingly give away such vital and potentially compromising information not only in the messages or “tweets” that you send, but also in the photos that you post!
Discuss this concern with your spouse, your domestic companion, your helpers, your extended family, but most especially—your kids! Do not let them be the unwitting spy of potential home invaders.
And beyond concerns about rape and robbery, personal information that you give away in social networking sites may also be used against you by others who stand to benefit from violating your privacy. They include: the office gossip, the corporate spy, your competitor for that next promotion, the love-sick stalker and even Big Brother’s over-zealous employees.
Some may wonder why Home Defense Journal (HDJ), a publication that exists and thrives only in cyberspace, can be so wary about social networking sites? Do we not use these same sites to promote HDJ as well as to touch-base with our readers?
Think of it this way. That gun in your hand can be used as a tool for your protection or as an instrument of your undoing. It all depends on how responsibly you use it.
Make an effort to be safety-conscious in the virtual world because it carries real-world security risks. Remember, information is the master key to any home!