Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine about privacy and the challenges we all face now through social media and the ‘online’ world. She told me that she and her husband had set their Facebook settings to private in every category they could, and had locked down who could see their posts and find them to only friends, the tightest setting available. They also stopped sharing Instagram photos and in general, tried to keep their social media activities between close friends and family only. That sounds like wisdom in action and I was highly impressed that someone without a security or privacy background had taken the time to go to such lengths to keep themselves safe.
However, I was following them home the same day after we’d met for lunch in Washington, DC. when I noticed the back of their car. On display for any stranger to see was a window sticker showing that they had four kids; three girls, and a baby boy. Also on the bumper, was a sticker showing the name of the high school two of the girls attended and the middle school that the youngest daughter attended. I think I figured out that the family loves Cape Cod and the Outer Banks also, all from driving behind them for 5 minutes on the Interstate.
Why is this important? Because they probably vacation there during each year and so that also gives a potential criminal an idea of when they won’t be home (school holidays is a safe bet). Throw in the kids activities (soccer and biking were both on the back) and your profile of the family was just developed a little further.
To summarize then, as a potential criminal I now know what area they live in (because I just followed them home for example), how many children they have, the fact that they likely do not have a dog (given everything else was on a stick at the rear of the car, I’m sure if they had one some kind of doggie sticker would be also), their activities, and their vacation destinations. Perhaps the most prominent sticker of all was the Proud Member of the NRA, also on the bumper. Clearly, this tells me they likely have a weapon at home.
All of this might mean absolutely nothing to most people, but today we’d like to encourage you to stop, take a minute and this about what harm could be done to my friend, just by the wrong person driving behind them. And then think about how many people actually do drive behind them in any given week.
Suddenly those Facebook settings are seeming pretty insignificant compared to the information they’re freely giving to everyone without a computer out there on the highway.