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Please Rob Me?! 8 Ways To Be More Responsible Online

What?  Really?  A site dedicated to informing the public of your adventures?  You can not just walk out of the house and take the same non-precautions your parents did.  C’mon people, this is the 10’s….uh, ok.  πŸ˜‰   I fall into the range of kids that our parents rarely locked the door so this could be a tough sell.

Being responsible online is a bigger issue than one may think. Sites like http://pleaserobme.com/ stand for awareness (more than information) about a growing issue with the unbeknownst user wanting to graffiti their new Buzz update on the latest diner.  Or becoming mayor of the local Waffle House on http://foursquare.com.  It is this carelessness that can get your house uncovered, smothered and robbed!

Being proactive about your location safety can come in many forms.  One of most important no-no’s is a series of updates stating an upcoming vacation or long absence.  With the uprise of twitter and Buzz, we have become maddened by the clouding of the non-essential, blotter style news that we are drifting into a pirates haven.  Thieves can have a twitter account, right?!  @iWantToRobYou……suprisingly not taken!  Makes me feel a little warmer inside….

Here are a 8 safety topics I would recommend to learn more about.  Take a second, buckle your social seatbelt and stop punching away on your phone for one minute.  We really don’t need to know every time you pass by the boutique or tech shop to tout your thin, online ego…

  1. Privacy Settings – Find them quick.  From foursquare to twitter to Buzz to facebook, you have a ton of privacy concerns that have already been brought up by the above statements.  Trustworthy sites make it easy to protect yourself. Make yourself aware of the depth you would like to provide to the public, if any.  Once you begin looking around, you may be surprised to see how much is actually out there.
  2. Mobile Settings – Yes, your phone has a GPS.  Yes, I see you on my Latitude.  Yes, I am now bored with your location.  All phones ask who you would like to see your location.  Spending time with this familiar feature can provide easy access to turning this ON and OFF quickly.  
  3. Your Updates – My personal policy is to update statuses mentioning my attack birds frequently so a would be robber will be deterred from getting pooped on relentlessly by my birds.  They are well fed.  Otherwise, I stick to ambiguous comments about the locations I am at.  I have nothing worth stealing so most of my updates are open but the advantages to being open, as opposed to anonymous, are yet to show themselves.  Use your own common sense on this.  
  4. Pictures – It’s always best to post pictures of your vacation when you return.  This can be a heartfelt gesture to your family and friends but your social network can include many people who don’t need to know you fell off your bike in Times Square and here’s the picture to prove it!  Wait til you get home, organize them and then post!  At least mobile pictures can be ambiguous…use playful comments.  Post a picture of Burger King and say, “Man, I love this place!” Then post to facebook.  Don’t say, “Man, I love this place….looks like imma stay here til dinner time.  (So you can rob me!)”  
  5. Digitally Cleanse your following – facebook is safe(?).  Don’t quote me but at least you can confirm friends.  Unlike facebook, twitter and Buzz can become a hassle trying to cleanse your followers by hitting ‘unfollow, block, report’ just so you feel better.  It’s the comparison to barnacles on a boat.  Spam followers inflate your following but when real people come through and notice you are not tending your flock, you lose a little social capital.  Stay on top of your followers!  It’s time to clean house! 
  6. Easy Target Syndrome – Yes, you!  The guy in the red shirt who hasn’t looked up at this thread one time.  You are so busy with all your friends business you are forgetting you need to take some time to protect yourself.  This point is really easy to explain.  BE CAREFUL!  The police will not respond to “@911 Help Me!”  Lock your doors.  Tell family, friends and neighbors when you may be out of town.  Have a safety net for times there may be problems.  Give your landlord notice, tell pops you will be gone and don’t stay gone for extended periods and notify twitter of every move. Well, unless you have menacing attack birds ready to poop on anyone who enters your home!
  7. Google Yourself – Nothing represents a good old fashion confidence boost like a Google search on yourself.  For the most part, you will likely find other people in the world that share your name and yes, they do exist.  Google is probably the most comprehensive search tool available.  However, using other sites can only improve your technique for finding out who is talking about you.
  8. Google Alerts – If you are web conscious already you probably already use Google Reader or Google News Alerts to scan comprehensive results and spoon feed these reports to you at an alarming rate.  Setting up a Google Alert is easy and can immediately send you details of when your name is found on the web.  Don’t be shy!  Try several types of searches.  For example, I use “lucaslshaffer”, “Lucas L Shaffer”, “Lucas Shaffer” and “Lucas Lamberto Shaffer”.  If any of these terms cross the wire, Google alerts me and I can be there before anyone else.  Be Smart!  This is very useful on many levels…
Many of these are common sense but still reflect a big part of what you CAN and CANNOT control.  You pretty much have the power to handle your online visibility and it’s ‘your’ responsibility to monitor your online social life just as it is to monitor your in-person social life (if you still have one, yikes!)
Nothing is more important than the safety of everyones family and friends.  Take the time to learn to protect yourself, as well!

About the Author

I am a husband to a beautiful wife named Whitney and Dad to a wonderful baby boy. Yay! :) Damien Augustus Shaffer has come into this world on March 15th 2010. In my professional life, I have accumulated over 4 years utilizing a wide range of technologies to develop software solutions for my current employer. Most of this time was spent learning methodical approaches within different environments to broaden my programming knowledge and project planning abilities. These environments include both open source and Windows based development, mainly Web. I also dabble in Social Media and it applications in today's culture and marketplace. I consider it a hobby but some may say its an obsession. ;) I enjoy it immensely.
  • Derek Williams

    Helpful tips, Lucas. I saw the news of PleaseRobMe.com go by a few days ago, but besides the obvious advice of "don't tweet 'left home'", very few practical suggestions were offered. So your post was quite helpful, and I learned a bit more about Google Alerts today.And I've gotta get me some of those attack birds.

  • Derek Williams

    Helpful tips, Lucas. I saw the news of PleaseRobMe.com go by a few days ago, but besides the obvious advice of "don't tweet 'left home'", very few practical suggestions were offered. So your post was quite helpful, and I learned a bit more about Google Alerts today.

    And I've gotta get me some of those attack birds.

  • Lucas Shaffer

    Thanks for the comment, Derek! Glad you enjoyed the post. If you happen to get 'attack' birds, you must make sure they are well fed. haha!

  • Lucas Shaffer

    Thanks for the comment, Derek! Glad you enjoyed the post. If you happen to get 'attack' birds, you must make sure they are well fed. haha!

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