Over-Sharing Online Can Lead to Virtual or Real-Life Security Breach

Over-Sharing online could make you a target in real life.

ByANDREA CANNING via via logo
March 24, 2010, 8:58 PM

March 25, 2010— -- You're getting ready for a vacation, or for a night out with friends. As part of your routine, you post an update on Facebook or send a tweet.

Keri McMullen didn't think anything of doing the same thing, updating her Facebook status with her plans to attend a concert. When she got back home, $10,000 worth of her possessions were gone.

"I posted that on my Facebook page, who the band was, where we were going. The band started at 8," she said.

The burglary was caught on security video that the woman had running in her home.

One of the suspects was one of McMullen's 500 Facebook friends, a man she hadn't seen in 20 years.

Police believe her status update tipped off the burglars.

"I will never again put that I'm going anywhere on Facebook," McMullen said. "You really don't know who your friends are."

Stories such as McMullen's inspired the Web site PleaseRobMe.com, which cautions against over-sharing your information on the Web.

"The more people know about us, especially the people we don't know and can't trust, the more at risk we are," Internet safety expert Parry Aftab said. "Think before you click, think before you post, think before you share too much information."

Tips for Staying Safe Online

Matt Chapman learned his lesson the hard way.

He tweeted and posted on Facebook that he was going camping.

"I never considered the ramifications of putting myself out there online, until we were burglarized," he said.

There are 400 million Facebook users worldwide. The Web site urges caution.

"Pick your friends just as carefully on Facebook as you do in real life … use the privacy tools to restrict more sensitive updates to your closest friends," the company told "Good Morning America" in a statement.

Aftab said there are three main ways to stay safe.

"Use privacy settings, make sure you're using those that lock out people you don't want," she said. "As Facebook said, choose your friends selectively. You're also going to make sure that you don't share information that you don't want to get out there even with your friends.

Aftab suggested that people search Facebook for themselves to see how much information they're sharing already.

"Frankly, there's just way too much information out there and a lot of people who are looking for it generally not for good purposes," Aftab said.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.

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