I have a presence on every major social media site out there. A platform you'll never find me utilizing, however, is one that uses geo-tracking. No, I don't "check in" at the grocery store via Foursquare. I don't even "check in" at my favorite restaurants using Gowalla or Yelp. This is a frequent issue of discussion amongst my social media peers. "I don't want a digital footprint of all the places I frequent," I say. "Furthermore, I rather people not know when I'm not home." This response is usually met with funny looks or rolling eyes.
Today, I feel vindicated. That's because I just stumbled across a website called PleaseRobMe.com. This wonderfully evil site is all that serial felons and wannabe thieves need to steal all your worldly possessions. Essentially, the site filters all those check ins that are tweeted across the globe and creates a feed on its site to tell robbers when you're not home!
Any high school dropout can easily Google your name to find out where you live and then swoop in to steal that sweet 60" flat screen TV you love so much. And, unlike break-ins of the past, these guys will even know when they have an extra 30 minutes to sift through your hidden treasures because you just sent a check in tweet saying, "Having a picture of margaritas at Pedro's Cantina w/@obliviousfriend."
Call me overly cautious, but these geo-location tools just aren't for me. Granted, I think they can have fun applications in a business setting (e.g. for street teams and other promotions), but I have no desire to broadcast my whereabouts to strangers. Think I'm paranoid? Well, I can say with 100% certainty that I'm not listed on PleaseRobMe.com. Can you?
Even more likely than being burglarized is being called up by the PLA. They've been calling places that people check in to, then having the Foursquare users paged so they can say silly things to them. Lots of fun, but it makes you think twice before posting your location. www.phonelosers.orgReplyDelete
I've always worried about this and like you don't like to post my locations. However, I do have plenty of nights out with girlfriends and I also travel to Europe alone, so I'm sure the would be burglers would be very suprised to walk in on my husband!ReplyDelete
I completely agree on this point! I do not even like to TWEET that I have left the house - and before you roll your eyes at me, too, people - consider that I live in the metro-Detroit area where unemployment is almost 15% (that they know of) and the extensions were just held up by Jim Bunning. There are already people checking to see if they can get in the cars and homes on my street.ReplyDelete
And my area is not a "bad" one. In fact, if you live in an affluent area, I would think you should be even less inclined to be open about your constant whereabouts. I have been watching friends on Twitter with Foursquare and it scares me a little for them. I do not think some of them understand they are stars on Twitter and thus subject to stalking like any other star.
It's pretty easy to track someone down if you search for them in earnest. There was a Wired article on a writer that tried to shed his "digital trail" but was physically located as part of a challenge.ReplyDelete
The question is how comfortable are you in sharing information and to what lengths will you go to hide your identity and location. For many, sharing their real names and pictures is way too much information. For others like me, I video lifestream so it's pretty easy to spot my location.
I was recently called by one of those phone stalkers who tracked me via Foursquare. It was very upsetting but it was something I knew could happen.
Whatever ones comfort level, there should always be some precaution.
Chris: Thanks for leaving a comment and for your insight. I hadn't heard of the PLA. Who knew?ReplyDelete
Anonymous: Thanks so much for taking the time to chime in on the conversation. Yes, a hubby at home does throw a wrench into a robber's plans!
Anita: I think you're points are right on the money. I couldn't agree more. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to the conversation.
Jesse: Yes, you're absolutely right. People are comfortable with different levels of transparency. I see lots of people on Twitter who don't use a real photo or a real name. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on the subject.
I'm not sure if that site is funny or not. I know that people are just stupid, but adding a site to help ID people away from home is not the greatest idea - even if the site says that they want to "offer this website to a professional foundation, agency or company that focuses on raising awareness, helping people understand and provide answers to online privacy related issues."ReplyDelete
Amber, you have nailed it once again! Look at this article on Twitter Tips and see what is developing now:ReplyDelete
Mclaughlin: Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment about PleaseRobMe.com. I don't think anyone put up the site with the intention of being funny. If anything, I suspect it was to make a point about how people are violating their OWN privacy by being so open about their whereabouts. Something for us all to think about, indeed.ReplyDelete
Anita: Thanks for the link. Interesting article. I bet that caller was from the PLA (mentioned in the first comment I received on this post). The intent not being to burglarize the person, but instead to harass them or give them a scare.
Like the article says, many people PAY to have unlisted numbers, so why in the world would you let the world know your minute-by-minute whereabouts? It's so crazy that it almost seems like some weird kind of sci-fi movie, doesn't it?
Thank you for the awareness of PRM.ReplyDelete
I quit tweeting what I was doing and pictures of where I was last year. I have used foursquare, yet check in later after I get home. Good point about having a digital trail of where I go. Not sure I like that.
I worked the last 4 years to dominate Google for my name. I get about 80% of the first 5 pages now. I have friends that do the opposite and if you Google their name you will not find a single thing.
Robert Scooble uses foursquare to let others know where he is a and checks in before he gets there so he has a better chance of meeting up with other geeky folks like me. His home address is not available on the web.
I am going to get a PO box and start to use it for my address on my domains and for Google local for my marketing company.
I have a pit bull and a few other dogs in the house so that provides a bit of comfort, yet not enough to be Geo tracking my location to the pirate sites.
I choose not to be the Mayor of my house and see others that have done that, yet it is a bit too much transparency for me.
Thanks again for sharing this important aspect of Social Media and Geo tracking.
Clay: Thank you so very much for contributing to the conversation and for visiting my blog. You have a lot of good points.ReplyDelete
Not to be the voice of doom, but I wouldn't be surprised if sometime in the near future we hear of some tragedy associated with these geo-location tools. Frankly, I think it's scary.
Our privacy is being violated left and right these days, from Target tracking our purchases and keeping our credit card info on file, to the market issuing coupons at the cash register based on our purchasing habits. Why anyone would volunteer the details of their every move is beyond me. Maybe I'm an old-fashioned girl, but I think a little mystery is good. :->
Very interesting. We try to be very careful and aware of what we share and with who (whom? - lol). But I'm sure we are easy to track down if someone really wanted to. Great post and something I will have to post about myself. :)ReplyDelete
Marianne: Thanks for chiming in. You're right, nothing is really private if someone wants to find out. It's just the fact that so many people are serving up this "private" info so willingly and freely that gets me. It's not about being paranoid, it's about being smart.ReplyDelete
I guess it falls under the heading of "better safe than sorry" for me. But, that's just me. Obviously, tons of Foursquare users disagree with my take on the situation!
Anytime one filled out a Govt. Census, it also becomes public information. Which nowadays is trackable online.ReplyDelete
There are endless ways of acquiring personal information, all one needs is a name & city.
All legal, most free of charge, some cost very little. Frightening if in the hands of someone unstable :o/
I hadn't heard of "Foursquare" ... I'll have to read up it. Like to be informed :o)
Thanks Amber ... I'll go to "PleaseRobMe com" as well.
Tanya: Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. Yes, way too much personal information out there. Interesting that you should mention the census. This is the first one in a completely web-centric world. 2000 was still the infancy of the internet for a lot of people.ReplyDelete