Who is watching when you Facebook Live?

Posted at 10:00 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 22:01:44-05

It's a platform for people to connect.

The ever-changing Facebook is evolving and adapting to the demands of everyday life.

But not without its costs.

"The bad guys are just going to latch onto whatever's new, try to find a way to exploit it and us it to their advantage," says Cpl. Phil Mullen of the Cape Coral Police Department.

It's a place where transactions are made, services are found, and questions are answered.  And now Facebook is offering the ability to broadcast live with the touch of a button.

All this happens in real-time.

Megan Reark is a stay-at-home mom to sweet baby Amzie and her little son Brantley.  But she also has a jewelry business, Razzle Dazzle by Plunder Design.

Busy running around after her two kids, she uses Facebook to market her jewelry.  "That's how I get the word out on Plunder," says Reark.

Especially on Facebook Live.  "If I'm not going live on Facebook that day and talking about it, then people aren't thinking about Plunder."

But Megan didn't know that depending on your privacy settings, anyone can be watching you on Facebook Live -- from anywhere across the country, and all over the world.

"I'm just kind of talking to my girlfriends, over the live feed, because it's just my Facebook friends, I would assume, that are there.  Brantley will pop up when I'm wandering around the house doing my live feeds and Amzie will start crying or something."

Facebook' has a "Live Map."  It pinpoints locations from across the globe where people are going live on Facebook.  You can zoom in on Florida, into Southwest Florida, and not only see where people are going live, but you can actually watch them.

"Anybody, anywhere, any time, if the settings are correct, can see it, broadcast it, view it."  Social media expert Chris Spiro says it depends on your Facebook Live settings.

We showed Megan the Facebook Live map.  "You pretty much can, if you really wanted to find someone, pretty much pinpoint them."

You can click it and it can just takes you right to their profile.  We decided to test the default settings of Facebook Live on Megan's account.  "Oh my gosh. Immediately when I pulled it up just now, it says public."

Keep in mind, she uses Facebook Live nearly every day to promote her jewelry. 

We did a test broadcast on Facebook Live to see if we pop up on the map.  "Oh my gosh! Oh my goodness. It's right there! Like there we are right there."

Megan realized her home, her location, her personal life could have been broadcast across the world.  "I would not know who was on the other end of that."

It's a concern that Cape Coral Police are warning users about.  Cpl. Phil Mullen says they've seen criminals use this personal information -- especially in cases involving money.

"They're using things like "Oh I have your brother Mike" because you volunteered all this information about your personal life, all your personal family, you wonder how these people have that.  Well you forgot you Facebook lived it six months ago."

And when you're Facebook living from home, "you're basically casing your house for them," says Cpl. Mullen.

Spiro has this advice for Facebook users: "Before you utilize it, go to your settings, see how the settings are, who you're broadcasting to, or who you're communicating with."

It's advice Megan says that for the sake of her little family, she's taking seriously.  "I'm going to make sure my privacy settings are on 'Friends' and make sure I double and triple check that. Because you just never know nowadays. You just don't."