What can Kim Kardashian’s robbery teach us about online safety?

On October 5th the internet went crazy over the news that Kim Kardashian had been robbed in a Paris hotel. According to reports, the reality TV star had been held at gunpoint in her room by a group of men dressed as police officers. The robbers then escaped with millions of dollars worth of jewellery, leaving their victim shaken and traumatised by the event.

In the days following the robbery, questions were being asked about just how much Kim’s use of social media may have made her an easy target for the criminals. Certainly the Parisian police seemed to think it may have been a contributing factor, with a spokesperson telling American news network CNN:

“It was really the celebrity who was targeted, with possessions that had been seen and noticed via social media, and it was these goods that the attackers targeted.”

There is little doubt that Kim’s incredible success is largely due to her use of social media. Her regular updates on sites such as Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram provide her millions of fans with a fascinating glimpse into her celebrity lifestyle, often featuring photos of the glamorous places she hangs out and the luxury items she owns. But could the social media tools she used to make her a celebrity also have left her vulnerable?

Maybe so. In the days leading up to the crime, Kim had been regularly posting about what she was doing and where she was going. She also shared a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring given to her by her husband Kanye West that would later be stolen in the robbery. By analysing the information she was freely giving away online, it’s entirely possible that the robbers were able to use this to plan their attack.

Whether social media was to blame in the crime or not, there is a valuable lesson to be learned from this story: Taken individually, our social media updates may seem pretty harmless. Taken together, however, they can help to build up a picture of where you are and what you’re doing that can make you extremely vulnerable.

If you want to stay safe online, follow our top five social media tips:

  1. Never share personal details publically online (such as your email, phone number, address or school).
  2. Be careful what you share in photos or videos – do they contain information that could make you a target? For example posting snaps from your holiday could alert people to the fact your house is empty.
  3. Beware of location settings if you’re using your social media from a phone as some posts may tag where you are when you update. Also, beware of checking into places on social media as this will give away your location.
  4. Never respond to friend requests or messages from people you don’t know.
  5. Make sure you’re privacy settings are up to date. Only share your posts with people you trust.

If you want to learn more about how you can stay safe online, check out the Think You Know website for advice https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/