IN BRIEF: Please Think Before You Update…

Longtime readers of this wee little blog of mine know that one of the topics I revisit from time to time is about REALTORS and physical security. My last post on the topic was a sad one, and one in which I advocated that real estate agents — in particular female real estate agents — get a concealed carry permit and start carrying a gun when on the job.

Earlier today, I log on to Facebook to see this update from a friend of mine (reposted/used with her permission, but figured I should black her name out):

I wanted to be sure so I contacted her to ask whether she knew all of her Facebook friends, and whether the security settings on Facebook were such that only her Friends could see that update. Even if you have a “Friends of Friends” setting, that means strangers now know that (a) she’s alone, (b) for an hour, and (c) the precise address where she will be for the next hour.

My immediate thoughts were as follows:

“I hope she’s not doing that open house alone.”

“If she is, I hope it’s really busy and crowded.”

“If it isn’t busy, and based on the cookies tempting her, it looks like she’s got a lot of downtime… I really, really hope no bad guy saw that Facebook update.”

And finally, “Jeez, I hope she’s carrying.”

She immediately knew why I was asking, and seemed a bit sheepish. And now she knows that she put something out there into the public sphere that could have been dangerous.

Please just think a bit before you post something on Facebook or Twitter, or to Foursquare or Pinterest or whatever the latest social tool du jour is that could have implications for your physical safety. Last year, Ashley Okland, a real estate agent in Iowa, was murdered while just doing her job. I could go on with a horror show of realtors being murdered, raped, and victimized by criminals, but you can read my longer piece above, or go do some Google searches yourself.

The point is… yes, Facebook and Twitter and social networking tools are wonderful communication tools. But they’re not a telephone call with friends you know. Many of them are public announcements, especially if you don’t really know what your security settings are for your updates. Just… recognize that the world isn’t filled only with good people with good intentions. Yes, most of them are. Yes, chances are nothing is going to happen because you tweeted out that you’ll be alone at an open house for the next four hours, hoping to draw some people in to see the house. I’m sure you’ve done it hundreds of times before and nothing happened.

But I’m equally sure that Lindsay Buziak, Sarah Ann Walker, and Ashley Okland all had done similar things hundreds of times before and nothing had happened. Until something did.

Just be careful, and think about what you’re broadcasting to the world with social networks. That’s all.

Here’s a link to the NAR REALTOR Safety materials.

And here’s a link to the laws in your state in case you’re interested in concealed carry.

Be safe everyone.


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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