Keep Your Status Updates Safe For The Holidays

Santa Claus may be coming to town, but burglars could show up instead if your Facebook status says you're not home.

Are you going to visit friends or family during the holiday? Before you head out the door, remember to unplug the Christmas tree lights, and while you’re at it don’t post a status update saying you won’t be home.

That sage advice comes from law enforcement officials who spoke with the BBC this week. Facebook simply adds a new wrinkle to friendly advice that police have refrained for ages now.

Of course, spokespeople for the social network astutely point out that Facebook itself doesn’t increase the risk of a burglary happening. People create risks like these by overconfiding online.

Certainly, careful use of the privacy settings will also keep burglars from finding out whether or not you’re home for the holidays. If you really feel the need to tell people on Facebook that you’re leaving your home for any period of time, consider one or more of the following:

  1. Change your privacy settings to only allow people on your friend list to see your status updates, and then post your logistics there.
  2. Select a smaller number of friends to inform of your whereabouts and send them a direct message about it.
  3. Like a hybrid of 1 and 2, use the privacy settings to allow only a subset of your friends to view your status updates. You can do this temporarily, and when you’re ready to revert to your previously more visible status updates, go back and delete the posts that you don’t want everyone to see. Then restore visibility to all.
  4. Consider limiting the visibility of your photos, wall posts and identifying information to friends or subsets thereof. Shroud anything on your profile looks like it might give burglars clues about whether and how to rob your home.
  5. While you’re fiddling with these settings, consider possibly limiting who can find you in search results. You could limit that to people who belong to the same networks as you or who have mutual friends, for example.

What do you think of this holiday safety advice for Facebook use? Do you have any other relevant suggestions in this regard?