Social Media and OPSEC: How Much Information Are You Giving Away?
by J.G. Martinez D.
For many, the current situation has brought us lessons to learn. Quarantine, crisis, and collapse: all of these events bring consequences that impact like a ton of bricks. With the lack of decent jobs available (something that in Venezuela has been hard to find since somewhere around 2012) it has been normal to see an increase in crime. A young, uneducated population, will look for the means to provide for themselves in any manner they choose, including finding victims on social media. Add drug and alcohol addiction and things can go to hell in a hand-basket very quickly.
Editor’s Note: Every time we post about social media, we get a barrage of comments about how you, personally, don’t use it. I realize not everyone uses social media, but billions of people do. Some people must maintain profiles for work or business purposes. If this information isn’t applicable to you, personally, it might be helpful for someone you love, or this just might not be an article for you. – Daisy
A recent experience has made me realize my paranoia is justified.
Even though I know better, I can be unwary sometimes, but not without good cause. If we are not careful with what we share on social media it becomes inevitable that we will expose our entire lives to predators. There are criminals watching for our personal information. What these criminals find on social media can lead to very dangerous situations. I can not give you the details, but using my own experience, I can offer suggestions that you may find useful in certain situations.
In current times it is best not to brag. These days I believe it is the ghost-like man and his family who survive and thrive. While it may seem celebrities are living a superb life, we do not know what is truly going on. Leave the red carpet for the Kardashians. Personally, I’d prefer living on top of a mountain, filtering rainwater to drink, and watching my family asleep around the fire in our humble cottage. Free, happy, and healthy, knowing that I am not a slave to the system and neither is my family.
My advice? Be discreet.
Use social media only as a place to hang out and casually joke. Sharing sensitive info is never advised. My main motivation is to provide my readers with reliable information: real boots on the ground information. Sometimes, I get distracted and post comments that I should not. My recent experience has taught me there ARE people out there, some who are psychologically compromised, that believe things to be true that are not. Social media profiles may contain personal information which is surely being monitored by one or more of these lowlifes. Trust me: my intention is not to scare anyone. On the contrary, it is to make my readers aware of this. No matter if you are a senior lady without a dime or a wealthy, educated retired college teacher: someone is out there looking for this personal information. I limit my comments and mainly use Facebook due to my association with the Organic Prepper.
Some people I know, who are close to me, have had quite traumatic experiences with social media. They are not wealthy, they live in a decent place, drive not-so-old cars. Although with the levels Venezuela has been at for the last 20 years, I guess some lowlife could consider them wealthy enough. These people I know live in a frontier city; this means criminals usually know that after committing a crime there, once they cross the border, they will be relatively safe.
Social media for work only is best.
It is very important to know that all the information we post online is available to everyone, everywhere. Going completely offline is possible, but in a modern economy, is it really practical? How do we sell our products, if we are homesteaders, without belonging to a group or some online community? Sure, we could use the old-style phone calls, telemarketing style but it is highly time-consuming and maybe impractical compared to other methods, to achieve our goals.
Using social media ( Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) exclusively for our work is the best approach. Our personal lives do not need to be known by others. Especially those who may be looking for a way to take advantage of someone they have chosen as prey. Don´t post about your armory or your panic room, your pantry full of food, nor your score in the range on social media. These criminals will know you´re not a piece of cake, and take it on as a challenge. The last thing you want is to face a bad guy who knows you may be armed.
By the way, these guys are usually NOT the stereotypical lonely psycho you see in the movies. They often attack in packs: two, three, or even four against one person they have found worthy. One or two of them will come in close, the others will be nearby, just in case things get ugly. Even if you neutralize two of them, the remaining others will hunt you down, just because they can. They can´t afford to allow a civilian to face them and win. Many of them are linked to the “uniforms”, who provide them guns, ammo, and even transport and protection. Although, the “uniforms” sometimes are the perpetrators.
Ask yourself the following questions.
What important information might you be giving away on social media?
- What would a predator checking your profile be looking for?
- What would look interesting to potential thieves?
- Is any of the following information on your profile?
- Number of persons living at home?
- Guard dog?
- Gun proficiency?
- Other defense means?
- Fancy cars? Furniture? Jewelry? Expensive phones/electronics?
- Do you travel a lot?
- Do you work so often that your house is mostly empty?
- Do you know personally all of those in your profile?
- Do you suspect any “friend” profiles are fake?
Do you really want your information online…forever? (once online, it stays online) None of this should be in any of your social media profiles.
Predators know that kids are a good source of information.
Kids talk. Especially to friendly adults. Predators know kids will feel “grown-up” if an adult speaks to them. Sadly, these criminals are only gathering information for an attack. When my older son was around 14 or 15, someone began asking him questions. My son quickly realized this thug had bad intentions and gave him fake information. But, do not underestimate these predators. They are smart, and most of them know when they are being lied to.
If you are able, download and save a photo of anyone who asks you for information that is suspicious.
In Venezuela, the upper-class neighborhoods and the poor neighborhoods are only separated by a few hundred meters. I am not saying that people living in poor neighborhoods are criminals, but the criminals are likely to live in those poor neighborhoods. So, if you are driving a shiny new car, every day, by the poor barrio, you will likely end up being targeted. If you are also sharing your personal information and your schedules and routines on social media, some of those criminals will be watching you.
This article does not go into how the social media companies themselves are using your information. That’s also a risk to your personal security and privacy.
Do you have any other tips for keeping your social media profile secure?
I hope this information has been useful in optimizing your OPSEC (operational security). We just never know who has been browsing social media for hours, gathering information needed to put together a portfolio of potential victims. One of those victims could be you.
Thanks for your comments, and your support to keep me writing!
About the Author
About Jose Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151