When Keri McMullen of New Albany, Ind. updated her Facebook status before heading out to a concert, she had no idea she was inviting a criminal into her home. While she was gone, someone from her friend list broke into her house and stole more than $10,000 worth of electronics and jewelry.
Luckily, a surveillance camera she had recently installed caught all of the action on tape and upon closer inspection, McMullen realized one of the men was someone she had recently accepted a friend request from on Facebook.
The man was someone McMullen grew up in the same neighborhood with, but she hadn’t been in touch with him for many years. She would never have suspected him or anyone from her friend list if not for the camera, set up not a week earlier to record potential homebuyers coming in to look at the home, that caught it all on tape.
Just because we may have been close to people who add us as friends at one point doesn’t mean we know the kind of people they are now. I am picky about who I add to my friend list, but I know some people who will add anyone who requests them. That seems really dangerous. Also, some people have their addresses and phone numbers on their profiles, which seems like an invitation for trouble.
I went back and looked at my own friend list and deleted a couple of people. I don’t think they are axe murderers or burglars, but you never know. It’s one thing to add your best friend or your cousin, but some guy you barely knew who lived across the street from you a million years ago? That might not be the smartest move.
Social media is getting smarter, which is making people seem dumber. According to MSNBC, when people send Twitter messages from certain types of phones, it updates their locations as well, telling the world that not only are you not at home, you are on the corner of University Drive and Berry Street. This could compromise the safety of you and your home all at once.
It seems like the world we live in now is a world where people are giving out way too much information. In this era of social media, everyone can find out what you are doing and where you are with the click of a mouse or by looking at their phones.
This isn’t an isolated incident. After doing a search, I found out about more than a few burglaries that had been traced to Facebook and Twitter updates. Just because we are living in a more “open” society doesn’t mean we still can’t be smart about our privacy. So use common sense on social media sites. Don’t add people as friends who you don’t trust or know well, don’t post private information like your home address and phone number, and don’t post updates about when you’re going on vacation and how long you’ll be gone.
It doesn’t take much for “friends” to turn into enemies.
Christi Aldridge is a senior strategic communication major from Hillsboro.