Generally speaking, I like the Today Show. I grew up with morning news programs and when I get a chance to watch them, I enjoy getting a news update with a sprinkling of magazine-style programming.
I was, however, deeply disappointed in the Today Show for the following piece about Facebook safety. Watch the clip below.
What this story does is fuel fear. It’s intentionally alarming people with a report of a perceived safety risk that is just not valid.
In the story, the victim was robbed by a neighbor who, the report alleges, knew she was leaving because of her Facebook status, and the fact that she was friends with her creepy neighbor on Facebook.
Now, I don’t know about you, but my neighbors know when I’m leaving because they see me put a suitcase in my car and drive away. We’re neighbors for goodness sakes. That being said, it was likely a neighbor who stole my kayak earlier this year. That theft itself had nothing to do with social media and everything to do with me having a thief for a neighbor.
The alarm over Facebook places, FourSquare and other status updates letting people know you’re not at your house is really overblown. It is, I’m told, the same kind of concern people had back when the answering machine was invented. People were fearful that if their answering machine said they were out and to please leave a message, they would be a target for thieves.
We’re all targets for thieves!
Let’s face it, if someone wants to commit a crime and they’ve picked you as their victim, short of locking yourself up at home, being paranoid and guarded with every single interaction, you’re likely going to get hit. Is this how you want to live your life? Nope. Neither do I.
Now, since the woman in the Today Show piece had her creepy neighbor as a friend and was posting her travel plans on Facebook, one thing she could have done is be more mindful about who she friends on Facebook, and what level of information those friends get to see. See my post about lists and how to create them in five easy steps. If she had a list called People I Don’t Really Know or Trust then she could have added creepy neighbor to that list and elected not to share her travel plans with people on that list. It’s not a bad idea, but truly, not worth getting all freaked out over.
What do you think? Was the Today Show playing on people’s fears over engaging online?
Yes, they’re playing on people’s fears. Most people make a point of letting their neighbors know when they’re leaving so someone will keep an eye on the house, anyway. A neighbor of ours (who has since moved away) used to take our mail in for us while we were away. The last time she did it, we came home and discovered she had opened and read our bank statement and credit card bills–and then asked us for a loan. That was an issue of learning that a neighbor we thought we could trust was untrustworthy. The avoidance of social media can’t protect you from every creep out there.
On the other hand, I don’t post on my facebook when I’m going back to my hometown because then hordes of people want to schedule get-togethers and I don’t have time to see that many people.