'Safe' social media posting during your vacation?

Published: Jul. 11, 2019 at 8:36 AM EDT
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As people splash into summer vacation season, it's tempting to post about our trips on social media while we are away from home. But is it ever safe?

"The safest time to post anything related to vacation is when you return from vacation," said Mitch Kajzer, director of the St. Joseph County Cyber Crimes Unit. "Most burglars and criminals want the path of least resistance. They don't want to come in a house that is occupied and possibly be confronted by someone. So, if they know a house is vacant, that's more of an incentive for them to go into that house as opposed to any other houses."

This applies for social media users who have enabled strict privacy settings.

"You're only as private as every single one of your friends who you have on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram," Kajzer listed. "Even if you lock information as tight as you can, all of your friends may not, and people can still see information that way."

Using Facebook as an example, Kajzer's student intern, Julia Gately, a rising junior at the University of Notre Dame, said people on the social media websites should go to the 'Settings' section located under the drop-down arrow on the top-right of the screen. That will take a user to the 'Timeline and Tagging' settings, where you can modify who can post on your timeline.

Gately recommends disabling the feature that allows to share their posts to their stories, as those posts will be visible for 24 hours and include a link to your post.

Located directly below the Timeline privacy settings is 'Tagging.' Gately suggests users change "Who can see posts you're tagged in on your timeline?" to "Only Me." This means people who are friends with your friends -- but not necessarily friends with you -- could see pictures in which you are tagged, perhaps an unwanted vacation photo.

As Kajzer reiterated: "When you're on vacation, enjoy the moment of being on vacation. Don't feel that you need to post and tell everyone about it."

He also recommends people avoid "checking in" to places while they are on vacation since it would let potential burglars know at what times homeowners are out of town.

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