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Instagram used to target college students

It has been a busy 1st quarter leading Personal Safety and Self-Defense Workshops for hundreds of high school and college students in Chicago and surrounding suburbs.

Many of the high school students heading off to college next fall are well versed in using Social Media, but aren’t quite as knowledgeable about the potential dangers they face when using it. I do spend a few minutes covering this topic in class, but this article published by the Orange County Register gives a great example of the dangers inherent in using social media.

For those of you who are too busy to read the entire article I have listed a few key points below.

1. A maintenance worker targeted at least 33 women, police say, all college students, tracking their movements through social media and then burglarizing their apartments and houses.

2. The accused spotted his victims in public places, then immediately tried to locate them on Instagram.

3. Police believe he would see a woman in a coffee shop, a mall or while out working. He would then see if she geotagged the location. If so, police said, he would follow the Internet trail and find photos of the woman taken at her home – if she didn’t disable the geotag, he could easily get her address, embedded in the photos.

4. Police say Arturo Galvan is accused of stealing more than $256,000 in electronics, jewelry and clothing. He stole laptops, jewelry and underwear from Chapman University and Cal State Fullerton students.

5. If Instagram profiles are public, users can see where photos were taken. Users also can pull geographical information from the photos, such as coordinates. Students said the incidents have left them reflecting on the importance of privacy settings and not always posting their whereabouts.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has tips to safeguard your information:

• Never upload pictures that have location data embedded in them. Experts recommend turning off the location services feature on your smartphone.
• Never post your location.
• Never take pictures that include credit card receipts or bills.
• Never take pictures that show your car’s license plate or obvious landmarks close to where you live.
• Never drop a pin on Google Maps showing where you are.
• Never “check in” or post about your everyday routine or the details (time or location) of vacations.
• Never associate your account with your address or cellphone number.
• Never share or post date of birth, home address, Social Security or phone numbers.
• Never post details regarding where children go to school.
• Never give anyone permission to see your social media profile unless you know them.

The Personal Safety and Self-Defense workshops that I lead are a combination of lecture, role play, and some very basic physical self-defense training. The focus is to help students improve their personal and situational awareness and teach them how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations; at school, home, work and on the street.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

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