Expert explains the risks of sharing snaps from your surroundings on social media and gives tips on how to do it right
As the COVID-19 pandemic got us locked down at home, social media became one of the key channels to stay in touch with others. Unfortunately, it’s not only your nearest and dearest who are following your quarantine life.
Photo: Laura Chouette
According to Kantar’s study of 25,000 consumers across 30 markets, social media usage has increased by 61% during the COVID-19 pandemic. More time on social media means more posts and more personal life revealed - a perfect environment for stalking, harassment, and cybercrime. You may not realize that the content itself, i.e., pictures and videos you post online, can reveal way more to strangers than you would initially intend.
Did you know that someone can zoom in your selfies to analyze the scenery reflected in your eyes? Last year, one Japanese stalker made news headlines for doing this. He had studied online videos of his victim to determine in what building and on which floor she lived — and then came to her door to attack her.
Photo: Afif Kusuma
“The case demonstrates the great issue social media users face these days – digital stalking may escalate into physical harassment,” says Ruby Gonzalez, Head of Communications at NordVPN. “Views and reactions to your social media content make you feel good. But the background of your images and videos also sends signals to any criminals lurking online.” These might be stalkers acting on uncontrollable feelings for their victims or hackers looking for new targets with wealthy lifestyles.
No need to panic yet. NordVPN’s expert has tips for you on how to protect yourself and your precious online content from criminals:
Make sure to set your account preferences on private. Before posting anything online, check who you’re sharing the information with. Make your posts visible to your friends only instead of everyone on the internet.
Don’t connect with strangers on social media. Before befriending someone you don’t know on Facebook, go through the mutual friends’ list or things you have in common.
Stop posting pictures and videos from your garden, balcony, or terrace. The background of these spaces can reveal the street and the building you live in. You wouldn’t want strangers to know this piece of information, would you?
Don’t upload high-resolution pictures to your social media profiles. It’s very easy to download Facebook and Instagram pictures and videos. Make sure to hide all street names, house numbers, and any other information that can indicate your whereabouts.
Don’t tag any locations around your home to avoid being tracked. Also, you can turn off geotagging so that no location-disclosing metadata is added to your photo files.
When browsing online, always protect your location. Keep your current location private by using a reliable VPN such as NordVPN. The virtual private network will hide your IP address and real location. By connecting to another country’s server, you can pretend to be virtually anywhere in the world.
Remember, if you can’t leave your home for an extended period of time, the risk of being located increases. To avoid potential threats, stay alert and don’t share too much with your social media followers.