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6 Tweets That Can Cripple Event Security—and How to Prevent Them

How guests and staffers alike are guilty of sharing event details over social media that can compromise safety.

Most guests, including celebrities and prominent corporate execs, are active on social media, posting pics and details that can compromise event security.
Most guests, including celebrities and prominent corporate execs, are active on social media, posting pics and details that can compromise event security.
Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Variety

Normally, event planners welcome social media posts showcasing their expertly produced soirees. But what if instead of sharing shots of the gorgeous decor, the public reveals tips on how to crash the A-list party? Social media has produced a new host of safety concerns for planners, so we asked security experts to clue us in on what types of posts to look out for when monitoring guest—and even staffer—activity on Twitter. Here’s what they had to say:

1. The “You guys, this is going to be the best event ever!” tweet (or, the promotional tweet)
Event organizers work long and hard to produce an event, and it's not surprising they want to share the many impressive aspects of it with the public to drum up some much-deserved publicity. But when it comes to taking to social media to reveal just how amazing the event is going to be, less is definitely more.

“There’s a fine line between getting the publicity you want and keeping the event safe and secure,” says 360 Group International’s Grant Murray. “If you’re putting it out on social media, I suggest leaving at least one of these things out: when, where, and what it is, as well as who is going to be there.”

And when it comes to the where, the less specific, the better. Don't make a potential gatecrasher’s job easier by revealing the exact banquet room where they can expect to spot their favorite celebrity.

Planners should also prepare for the possibility that the public can piece together details based on the smallest tidbit of information that's revealed, cautions Murray. Say you're hosting an event for Angelina Jolie’s favorite nonprofit in Boston and she’s been spotted in town the day prior to its fund-raiser. It doesn’t take much for an individual—or stalker—to gather that they can expect to see her at your event.

2. The leak tweet
O.K., so you and your staff have remained cautiously tight-lipped about your event, but somehow @eventcrasher4life has discovered that Beyoncé is your surprise performer, and has decided to leak this information on the Internet. All is not lost. The key is to swiftly communicate with the security team any and all changes in public knowledge about the event.

“As long as we know what’s happening, we’re good,” says Eddie Troiano, owner of New York-based Knight Security. “If Beyoncé is coming and it gets out, you could have an additional 500 people show up at your event. But we can put a contingency plan into action and do a variety of things like put up extra barricades, call the local precinct, keep four or five extra guys on hold, and so forth.”

Similarly, if a team member suddenly decides to “leak” information in an effort to create buzz around the event, organizers should make absolutely certain that security personnel are kept in the loop. “Just be honest with what you’re promoting and what you’ve changed so we can adjust accordingly,” says Troiano.

Another thing to keep in mind if the decision is made to reveal something like a surprise performer is that timing matters. “You can wait and do it a day or two before the event, which makes sense from a security standpoint because it’s harder for someone to plan their way into your event when you have the element of surprise on your side,” says Murray.

3. The V.I.P. tweet
High-profile guests, such as celebrities and executives at prominent companies, often attract unwanted attention—including threats. If there’s a known threat against a V.I.P, Murray suggests having the individual refrain from live tweeting prior to or during the event.

“If it’s about publicity, have the V.I.P. do it after the event, and if it’s not, don’t have them do it at all,” he says. “From a security standpoint, there’s nothing dangerous with saying an event went great five minutes after you’ve left it.”

4. The behind-the-scenes tweet
Whether it’s a direct message or a text, it only takes a single communication to cause a full-scale leak, so there are certain instances where it may be appropriate to have guests surrender phones at the door.

“If it’s something where there’s copyright infringement or propriety information involved, then it might be a good idea to set up some sort of security checkpoint to check phones,” says Murray, who cites movie premieres and celebrity weddings where the bride and groom have promised an outlet exclusive photo rights as examples.

“If you’re going to make certain rules apply about cell phones or about cameras or taking pictures, make sure that those rules apply to everyone,” he advises. “As soon as someone says, ‘Well, this one person can have a phone,’ there can then be absolutely no guarantee that a picture or information won’t be leaked. That one person may text their mom in Ohio who then posts it, and once it is out there it’s going to reach an exponential amount of people.”

5. The ticket tweet
In today’s era of oversharing, some guests not only feel the need to post photos of themselves at an A-list event, but also close-up images of the tickets or wristbands necessary to enter said event. This can become a security problem when gatecrashers hold the technical skills to duplicate ticketing material.

Some event planners include disclaimers along with tickets, warning guests that social media sharing is strictly prohibited. But as Troiano points out, “It’s nice to put a confidentiality email out there, but that doesn’t mean people are not going to post.”

The solution? “You have to be a little more thorough than using a red wristband,” says Troiano. “Have a procedure in place: Check IDs against the guest list, offer pre-registration, and if you use tickets, make sure you have a barcode and that the ticket can’t be copied.”

6. The non-tweet
Social media silence is not always golden. There are instances when a planner can leverage social media to actually bolster guest protection and inform them—in real time, no less—of potential safety issues.

“People are savvy enough to post on their own, but I think it’s very professional when planners take the time to update guests on changes,” says Troiano.

Updates of this sort have come into play at events like the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where those who followed the event’s Twitter page this year knew to “prepare for incoming wind and rain” and “put on a jacket” thanks to a cautionary tweet. Attendees who downloaded the Coachella app last year also received push notifications warning them about a severe incoming windstorm on the final evening of the first weekend.

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