Lori Getz: Did you hear about the Arizona man who tweeted last year about being on vacation, then came home to find that his house had been robbed? Well, I did -- and it started me thinking about how publicly we live our lives now, and questioning whether or not it's a dangerous lifestyle.
So I did some investigating. I pulled up Twitter's search engine and typed "vacation." Simple enough. I quickly learned that on the day of my search, six people were either traveling to or traveling back from vacation. I then Googled a few of them, and actually found home addresses for two of those users. Could it be that easy? Yep!
Now, for those of you who are concerned that I am giving the thieves ideas, it's too late. These thieves are not even cloaked in black ski masks and hiding in the dark shadows. They are just hanging out online in places where people are talking about their "status."
Teenagers use Twitter, Facebook and MySpace as their social calendars and keep their friends up-to-date about where they are going and what they are doing at all times. It's pretty voyeuristic, but it is reality. We need to mention to them that it is NOT a good idea to post private information in their status bars.
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Now, do I fault Twitter for the Arizona man's trouble? Of course not! That would be like being upset at my house after I posted a note on the front door saying I was going to be gone for a week, then came home to find that the place had been ransacked.
Twitter is a powerful tool, and it has been instrumental in changing how we disseminate information -- worthy information. In fact, when the Mumbai attacks occurred in 2008, you could follow it live on Twitter with real-time updates from people experiencing the event. (Not to mention the 2009 Iran protests, wherein Twitter was instrumental in not only keeping Iranians informed, but updating the U.S. media.) PR firms and marketing gurus love their ability to send out tweets about the latest update or event. In fact, I'll be sending out a tweet of my own when this article is published.
It's not that we need to stop using this social medium. We just need to be thoughtful about how we use it. None of this has to be dangerous. We just need to be well-informed of the risks in order to make the best decision possible. Me, personally, I think I'll keep the vacation information off the Net, just to be safe!