This guest post first appeared on Thread, New Zealand’s popular fashion, beauty and culture website.

The front door looks… strange. You slowly push it open, and enter your house, dragging your holiday bags behind you. Looking around, your normally spotless home is a shambles – clothes and household items are strewn everywhere. Your blood starts pounding loudly in your ears and your heart sinks; you’ve been burgled. What an ending to your New Year’s Eve road trip with friends! And what’s worse, your precious Macbook Air and treasured Jimmy Choo stilettos have gone too. Later, the police tell you the burglar knew you were not home from your Instagram photos and Facebook checkins at the Rhythm & Vines concert. They…. WHAT???

It’s quite unnerving to think this might happen to you, but a little bit of common sense can help you avoid this kind of situation.

  1. Check your social media privacy settings regularly. Social networks change their settings all the time so make sure you check yours. On Facebook, use the ‘View As’ feature to see what other people can see. Take a look at your Twitter tweets – has the location somehow been flicked to ‘on’? This has happened to several people I know over the past month including a local celebrity, and they have unknowingly been broadcasting their home address.
  2. Have you been lucky to receive expensive gifts for Christmas? Don’t share photos of them publicly – it’s the social media equivalent of stacking empty computer boxes on the footpath for recycling. Thieves will know you have something worth stealing!
  3. Don’t share your home address online, and be wary of posting photos inside your house if they contain expensive items – thieves will know exactly where to go.
  4. If you like checking in on social media when you go places, then do it after you have left or just as you are about to leave, not when you arrive. This prevents unwanted visitors tracking you down in person.
  5. Remember that tagging friends on Facebook means all their friends see that post as well. Tagging five mates in your New Years Eve photo means instead of 200 friends seeing your photo, over 1,000 people might view it.
  6. It’s virtually impossible to scrub the internet clean, so don’t be tempted to post that selfie in your bikini if you look really hot. It’s super easy for someone to screen grab that image and then you have lost control of it – and who knows who might see it now.
  7. Travel information – like boarding passes, itineraries, passports, checkins at airports – tell everyone where you are going to be. And also where you are not. Keep them to yourself.
  8. Documents that are required for ID purposes should also not be shared online – including passports, drivers licenses and birth certificates. Images of your credit card showing the card number are also not a great idea. Don’t help someone steal your identity.
  9. Tell your friends what you are comfortable sharing on social, and why. If you are being sensible about oversharing your personal information and location, is it OK for your BFF Sonia to Facebook ‘Off to have a blast at Rhythm & Vines with Georgia, Emma and Amy for 4 days – watch out Hawkes Bay!”

Holidays are perfect for taking photos and sharing them with friends. Being safe on social media just requires a healthy amount of common sense, peppered with a smattering of social savvy.

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