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Strangers Can Track You In Minutes On Social Media

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Right now, someone could be using social media to watch your every move.

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole went out to see just how easy it is to target and track down a total stranger in just minutes.

He shows us what he did and how we can protect ourselves from social stalking.

Thousands take and then post pictures of their visit to Chicago's bean so why shouldn't she?

But we were able to track a woman at the bean through software that mapped her posted Instagram pictures in real-time, in a matter of seconds we scanned her social media accounts learning an awful lot.

"Do you consider yourself a gastro tourist?" says Vince.

"100 percent I am a gastro tourist," says the woman.

"And have you been to Austin recently?" says Vince.

"I live in Austin yeah," says the woman.

"And have you been to a sort of dress up ball in the past few months?" says Vince.

"I have," says the woman. "This is like really kind of creepy."

Posts to social media about where we're dining or the places we visit may seem harmless but they also indicate where we are and aren't, in the wrong hands that's dangerous.

"He looked at me through my blinds and I screamed at the top of my lungs," said an unidentified California woman.

She's one of three dozen California women reportedly targeted by Arturo Galvan.

Police say he trolled their social media posts, pinpointing their addresses and learning when they weren't home.

He'd then reportedly broke in their homes, stealing some $250 in electronics and women's underwear.

"It made me realize we shouldn't put where we are ever," said an unidentified California woman.

The latest social mapping software doesn't surprise Don Heider from Loyola University's Center for Digital Ethics and Policy.

"Almost daily there is some new app and you have to figure out what's the terrain," says Heider. "What's safe, what are the implications, who can see your data, who doesn't see your data."

Safeguards include a delay in posting, share pictures of where you've been not where you are. Avoid posts identifying your home or daily routine.

And manage your social media accounts, privacy settings let you share posts only with people you know, also settings on your smart phone allow you to turn off and not share your location when posting to social media.

Otherwise don't be surprised if people know more about you than you'd like.

Here's one more bit of advice, when updating to newer versions of your social media apps and software, take time to read the fine print and find out what may have changed about the information the software might share with other.

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