Iowans are wise to tell a trusted neighbor their plans before they leave town for a few days, but it’s not so smart to announce the trip ahead of time on Facebook. Drew McClellan, an online marketing consultant from Des Moines, says using online social networking websites like MySpace or Twitter to announce you’re going on vacation is almost like asking thieves to break in.
“People need to remember that they’re basically talking in a very crowded room where they don’t know everyone,” McLellan says. “You wouldn’t stand at a party and shout out your Social Security number or tell a bunch of strangers you’re going on vacation, so, the same precautions should take place in Facebook.”
McLellan, one of the top 50 marketing bloggers in the world, says these websites are great places to connect ourselves to millions of people, but we should keep in mind, most of those people are strangers. He says if you post something in your status, it’s likely not just your 57 chosen friends who’ll see it.
“What you need to remember is, as soon as someone comments or reflects on what you’ve said, all of the sudden that opens the window for everyone that they’re connected to to also see what you’ve said,” McLellan says. “Depending on your privacy settings, you could actually have your profile set so that everyone in the world can read what you’re saying.” McLellan, who owns McLellan Marketing Group, says the lessons we taught our children about not talking to strangers may also apply to us as grown-ups in terms of using this sort of website.
“There have been instances, here in the Midwest and all over the country, where either on Twitter or Facebook, somebody has posted that they’re going out to dinner or that they’re going on a vacation and unfortunately, they’ve come home and found that their house has been burglarized,” McLellan says. “Basically, they put a ‘Come on in!’ sign on their front door.” Even making a seemingly-harmless online mention of dinner plans, he says, could be giving clever crooks all the information they’ll need to rip you off.