SYDNEY Aug 28 (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
"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
"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 &
Reformed burglar Michael Fraser, who appears in BBC's "Beat
The Burglar" series and helped Legal & General prepare the
report, said this kind of information was being used by
professional burglars to establish a list of targets.
As well as information about trips away, people were
posting party photos showing the interiors of homes and also
chatting about their cool new purchases and presents.
"I call it "Internet shopping for burglars." It is
incredibly easy to use social networking sites to target
people, and then scope out more information on their actual
home ... all from the comfort of the sofa," said Fraser in a
"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that burglars are
using social networks to develop relationships with people to
identify likely targets."
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy)