Stop checking in!

I like social media as much as the next person, and I use it both personally and professionally. However, when I see someone “checking in” on Facebook or Foursquare, or live tweeting from a concert or other event, it truly bothers me.

Why?  Because anyone  — from angry exes to angsty crushes to absolute strangers — can see where you are…and where you’re not!  Checking in at a restaurant, club, hotel or event gives away a lot of information.

If you use social media as part of your business, that’s one thing.  Check your privacy settings, know who your connections are, be aware, trust your intuition and get on with your life.  But if you’re sitting at home alone and you’re bored, don’t complain about being lonely on social media.  That knock at your door may not be a friend.  And if you announce publicly that you’re away from home, you are creating a golden opportunity for burglars, vandals and more to take advantage of that situation.

Excited about going on vacation?  Don’t do a countdown on Facebook, check in at the airport, check in at your hotel, check in at the ski lodge…you get the picture.  Not only will your friends wonder why you’re spending your lovely vacation time with your smartphone in your hand, but anyone with an ulterior motive can easily find out exactly where you are and what you’re doing.

Wait until you get home from vacation to post your photos and tell your friends about what a wonderful time you had. Those closest to you will already know where you were, and be looking forward to hearing about it and seeing your vacation pics!

Take 5 minutes to check your security settings on your social media accounts (public? friends? friends of friends?), to limit who sees your posts and avoid being tagged in statuses, posts and photos without your approval.

I am not suggesting that you stop posting on social media; it is a wonderful tool to keep in touch with friends and family who are spread across the state, the country or the globe. However, please take into consideration the potential dangers of letting so many people — friends of friends, ex significant others, and even the general public — know where you are and what you are doing.

I have heard stories ranging from people taking a “sick day” off of work, then checking in at the State Fair and posting photos of themselves having a great time (OF COURSE they got in trouble with their employer), to others posting that they were going away for a long weekend and their house being robbed while it was unattended.  Why “check in” and give away your exact location when you could simply post a status or photo of whatever it is you really want to share?

In your online interactions as well as your “IRL” (in real life, for those over 40) interactions, be aware, stay safe, and stop checking in!

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