Why You Shouldn’t Share Your Location on Vacation

Be careful what (and how) you post to social media while away from home

While it’s tempting to post pictures on social media of your cool campsite either in a campground or in the middle of nowhere it lets people know (possibly criminals too) your current location and more importantly that your home is vacant.

The advent of social media has put everyone in a rat race of sharing—from sharing their pictures, important milestones, and even location on social media and the internet. People have become very fond of this practice to update their friends and followers about their daily activities. While doing so they turn their location on to check-in to different places with their friends. That is where the risk factor comes into play.

It’s easy to share information with your online contacts. Platforms like social media make it simple for you to broadcast to your family and friends (and even to strangers, depending on your privacy settings) what you’re up to and where you are.

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Apps like Facebook and Instagram allow you to tag your photos with the place they were taken and Facebook allows you to tag your statuses with your location. Meanwhile, Snapchat allows you to share your current location as you stream live alerting your followers (and the public, depending on your privacy settings) to your whereabouts.

You’ve probably heard this before. “If you don’t post about it, you haven’t done it” and in addition to activities (like attending music festivals) it also refers to your travels. If you’re on Instagram, you might feel compelled to post pictures or stories to let your followers know where you are.

It makes sense—it’s a social media platform and that’s one of its uses. However, it might become risky for your own personal safety if you don’t take some important privacy issues into account.

I’m talking about sharing your location. In short, you shouldn’t do it unless you take some precautions. Sharing your real-time location can jeopardize your safety as it means broadcasting your whereabouts to many people—and some of them might not have good intentions.

This isn’t something new. Celebrities have long been affected by this same issue including Kim Kardashian who in 2016 was the victim of a robbery in Paris. She shared the location details of the hotel she was staying in and the robbers didn’t think twice about orchestrating the attack.

Social media exposure can impact you even if you aren’t a celebrity. When you let the internet know you’re on vacation somewhere you also let everyone know you’re not at home.

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Information about your absence can be exploited in various ways from impersonating you to accessing your personal accounts or even attempting to scam friends and family who might be unaware of your travel plans. To protect yourself it is best to avoid posting your holiday plans and specific travel dates on social media. If you want to share your experiences wait until you return home.

The same goes for your location. You can still get the most out of your social media experience without sharing where you are while you’re there. If sharing where you are is important to you consider waiting to tag the location until you leave. By delaying your posts, you can still share your experiences without compromising your safety.

Your location is only one of the many sensitive data you might be sharing online so while it is important to try your best to protect those location-specific details, it is also essential to holistically protect yourself when online. The golden rule to succeed is straightforward: Share the least amount of information possible.

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What you choose to share on social media is always your decision but what others choose to do with your information may not always be in your control. Consider taking the following personal safety precautions with these social media safety tips:

  • Know how to report, block, and filter content: Social media privacy and safety tools update constantly. The best place to learn about how to enact features is on each social media platform.
  • For example, Facebook has few options for filtering sensitive content. They operate by a system of individual users reporting posts or by messaging the poster and asking them to remove harmful posts.
  • Personalize your privacy settings: Adjust your privacy settings on the site to your comfort level and select options that limit who can view your information. Think about non-traditional social media as well such as your public transactions on Venmo or music activity on Spotify.
  • Pause before you post: Before you post, ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing this information with everyone who might see it. Content that contains personal information or your whereabouts could pose a safety risk. Even content that is deleted can sometimes be accessed by the website or through screenshots of the original post and could be used maliciously.
  • Use a private internet connection: Avoid public Wi-Fi connections like those offered at coffee shops when using a website that asks for a password. Limit your social media usage to personal or private Wi-Fi networks while using cellular data on your phone or under the protection of a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
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Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) advise you to do so as well. “Limit the amount of personal information you post—do not post information that would make you vulnerable such as your address or information about your schedule or routine. If your connections post information about you, make sure the combined information is not more than you would be comfortable with strangers knowing. Also be considerate when posting information, including photos, about your connections.”

Sharing your location on social media has many perils—not only for you but for your friends and family as well. Today’s trends of social media tagging have made it all the more easy for hackers to steal valuable information. So, it is always best to keep yourself on the safe side. Try avoiding sharing your location on social media platforms.

Worth Pondering…

I am a nonparticipant of social media. I’m not much attracted to anything that involves the willing forfeiture of privacy and the foregrounding of insignificance.

—Billy Collins