Photo Credit: pexels
When it comes to posting content on popular social media networks, we’re all guilty at times of posting too much information. The problem is that some information – such as your precise geolocation – can be used by bad actors on the internet for nefarious purposes. We all have the power to control what data we share with others, so just remember that geolocation data is one of the most powerful types of data out there: it enables others to pinpoint exactly where you are in the world at a specific time.
Posting too much information on social media can be dangerous
There are a number of reasons why you might want to add your geolocation data to a social media post. If you’re on vacation, for example, you might want your friends to see where you are enjoying such a fabulous time and taking such amazing photos. If you’re hanging out with some friends at a party, you might want to tag your location so that other friends can come out and enjoy a good time with you.
But there is a dark underside to all this geolocation data. We’ve all heard of employees who call in “sick,” only to post a photo with geolocation data that somehow finds its way back to the boss. Or unfaithful spouses who sometimes post just a little bit too much information (“honey, I thought you were on a business trip…”). But sometimes things get way out of control. There have been cases where people post information about their fabulous vacations, and this information is then used by thieves to target expensive homes that are being left unguarded and unsupervised.
And then there’s the just plain dangerous situations, like the tragic incident involving Philadelphia-area rapper PnB Rock (Rakim Allen), who was hanging out at a local restaurant with his girlfriend when a suspect burst into the place, robbed him at gunpoint, shot and killed him, and then escaped through the back door to a waiting getaway car. Apparently, his girlfriend had shared their geolocation via Instagram.
The incident was eerily reminiscent of another high-profile incident – the hotel invasion robbery of celebrity Kim Kardashion in Paris back in 2016. Kardashian, who had been posting on social media about her multi-million-dollar bling during Paris Fashion Week, apparently left just a little too much information online about where she was staying. A group of men in ski masks broke into her hotel room, tied her up, and absconded with more than $10 million in jewelry and other valuables.
Lessons for social media users
This is not to say that the next time you post a photo on Instagram, some group of random criminals is going to find you, tie you up, and escape with all the cash or jewelry you have, but it is a useful warning. Do not post your location on social media if you have reason to believe that bad actors might use it. This includes ex-wives, ex-husbands, jealous girlfriends, or the crazy guy from the office who still holds some kind of grudge against you.
Certainly, if you’re a parent of a young social media user, this applies to you as well. Tell your kids not to post their exact location online. You never know who is viewing their photos online, so one option might be to make their accounts “private.” That way, at least, you know who is potentially viewing their photos. You don’t want the creepy guy hanging out at the park to know where they are.
That being said, the majority of people using social media are good, decent people. But there are just enough bad apples out there that you sometimes need to think about the worst case scenarios and plan accordingly.