Telegraphing Your Absence

The headline on the WMUR-TV website sounded clear enough: “Police: Thieves Robbed Homes Based On Facebook Posts.”

What is left unexplained is whether the victims in Nashua, N.H., had lax security settings on Facebook or whether the thieves were able to hack into their accounts to view the “I’m-not-home” status updates or take a peak at their Foursquare check-ins. From the looks of the burly suspects, I suspect the former.

I often wondered about this as I was posting FB updates and photos while in South Korea in July (click here and here to read the columns I wrote for The Lakeville Journal about that experience).

Could a thief view my page and then waltz into my home and rob me blind, secure in the knowledge that I was 8,000 miles away? Fortunately, my neighbor was happy to watch my house closely while we were away — and I do the same for her when she takes one of her frequent trips.

Perhaps one of my web-monkey friends (Fred Shakeshaft or James Clark?) is reading this and can tell me the answer. If indeed it is a security flaw, then FB had better fix it quickly.

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  • Michael J Flint

    Why does FaceBook have to fix something that is a 'judgement call'???If you don't want people to know you are gone (that is, everybody) … Don't post it ANYWHERE on the Internet …YOU run the risk … the Provider is NOT responsible for your 'irresponsiblity' …This reminds me of Swing Sets in West Virginia … Everyone else is responsible for my actions and I have NO accountability!Are you turning LIBERAL??? … Yes … I mean you … Mr. Cowgill!!!

  • Terry Cowgill

    Haha! Just call me Ralph Nader!Seriously Mike, I think you misunderstood me. Facebook offers privacy settings in which — if you set them correctly — people who are not your friends are not supposed to see your status updates or anything else on your profile that you don't want them to see.If that security can be penetrated or is otherwise ineffective, then Facebook should either fix the problem or stop claiming that the privacy settings offer any security.I would think even a conservative would find that reasonable.

  • Michael J Flint

    No one can guarentee that your info on the internet cannot be accessed … NO ONE!I still maintain that if you don't want others to have access to personal information (such as your daily comings and goings)keep it off the net.I just don't get this concept of putting all of your personal business on a website.I stand my ground on this one!BTW … I consider myself a Libertarian … :)