Burglars using Facebook, Twitter to find targets: report

Fri Aug 28, 2009 9:43am EDT
 
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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Facebook users enthusing about an upcoming holiday or a recently purchased high-tech gadget may not just be telling their friends but also potential burglars, warns an insurance company.

A survey of 2,092 social media users by British-based Legal & General found nearly four in ten, or 38 percent, of people using social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter post details about holiday plans and 33 percent details of a weekend away.

"Coupled with the finding that an alarmingly high proportion of users are prepared to be 'friends' online with people they don't really know, this presents a serious risk to the security of people's home and contents," said the insurer.

In a report called "The Digital Criminal," Legal & General said people used social media sites to connect with people who were essentially strangers, which could provide potential thieves with vital, personal information.

To test how readily people accepted 'friends' online, Legal & General's survey, conducted by European market researcher Opinion Matters, involved sending out 100 'friend' or 'follow' requests to strangers selected at random.

Of those 13 percent were accepted on Facebook and 92 percent on Twitter -- without any checks.

But despite these new 'friends,' the survey found that nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, of 16-24 year olds shared their holiday plans, with younger users the most likely to give away information about their whereabouts.

Men were found to be quite relaxed about giving personal information online, with 13 percent including their mobile number on their profile compared with 7 percent of women. Nine percent of men also posted their address compared to 4 percent of women.

"This reaction could result in a complete stranger potentially being able to learn about a person's interests, location and movements in and out of their home," said Legal & General.   Continued...

 
<p>Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, delivers a keynote address at the company's annual conference in San Francisco, California July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Kimberly White</p>