Now, will you stop broadcasting ‘where you are’?

To be honest, I guess, I’m asking this to myself along with millions of others out there who constantly ‘broadcast’ their global position through social networking services such as Facebook [Place?], Twitter, Foursquare, etc. It’s probably okay to share where you are heading to. But, are you aware who you are sharing such confidential information with?

facebook status

This can happen to you, too. Don't worry. :|

Most people have over thousands of friends on Facebook. I wonder if they can even name everyone in their list. Honestly speaking, I have over 200 friends and I admit that I don’t personally know each of them. So, if a person doesn’t even know who he is sharing his location, isn’t he in a danger of his house being burglarized? This was long ago a question. But now, no more. The burglars themselves admitted that they used Facebook status messages to track their victim. They succeeded to attack 18 homes and steal goods worth of $100,000 to $200,000! [Source: New York Times Bits]

In case you didn’t know, there used to be a website named “Please Rob Me” where such messages used to be aggregated and, probably robbers, used to make the best use of them. If you want to attack on a specific house, and if you know the person, you could know his location through this website as it aggregates a number of check-ins/location-shares. However, the site has recently been shut down by its owner saying: “We are satisfied with the attention we’ve gotten for an issue that we deeply care about.

please rob me

This is how anyone could track down anyone when the site was active.

This is pretty funny that you are telling where you are going to a strange-looking guy standing in front of your house who you don’t know anything about. Well, sharing your location with stranger facebook friends (and twitter friends, as well) is no different. Foursquare is another game to play with that is even more dangerous than Facebook or twitter status updates.

I am still not worried about my status updates when I say “heading to office” on Facebook because Bangladeshi robbers are still not smart enough to track Facebook status and then rob. :D And even if they were, I carefully choose my Facebook friends. However, I don’t think we can sit back without worries with our status updates for too long. Who knows maybe the local burglars over here in Bangladesh may upgrade their total system of burglary learning from their foreigner gurus. :D

Keep in mind that Facebook status can be useful for other things as well. Imagine you have a girlfriend who is possibly dating with another guy. She might be tracking you on Facebook and when you are out of your home, she won’t date with anyone. This is just one real life example. I can give you lots of such examples but you got an idea, right? Let’s not waste time on this anymore.

So, now the question in the title goes to you. Is it time to think about the risk you are going to take before you share ‘where you are’ with your friends (?) on social networking sites such as Facebook and twitter?

Ask yourself. Type in the answer in the comment form and hit Ctrl + Enter :D (CMD + Return for Mac, wait, do I have any mac visitor? :o ).

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20 thoughts on “Now, will you stop broadcasting ‘where you are’?

  1. i like This {I am still not worried about my status updates when I say “heading to office” on Facebook because Bangladeshi robbers are still not smart enough to track Facebook status and then rob.}. I also carefully choose my Facebook friends. Thank’s For your Post.

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    • There is no point, actually, Even I myself often share with my friends where I am heading to. But I don’t know why I do that. In fact, we all need to be more careful with what we do in social networking websites. Just because those sites are virtual, we can’t be sure that they will not affect our real life.

  3. Thanks for your comments on my Blog! I agree that Facebook has become a security risk for FAR too many who don’t even know how much information is being made available through playing games and posting information on their profiles.

    What bothers me MOST is the DIFFICULT effort and number of settings that have to be looked at to turn off a service like Places that I never wanted in the first place! I think Facebook needs to take a page from Firefox and Chrome and make such add-ons extensions that they offer for download rather than setting EVERYONE up to participate or allow participation!

    • Even a guy like me, who is all day working around technology and writing news and reviews about social media and technology events, gets confused with all these settings. Now imagine what a regular person who doesn’t have much complex knowledge about technology will feel with these settings. It’s damn hard to manage. And this Place thing, some say it’s cool but I don’t think it is.

  4. You are exactly right on with this. I stopped using Facebook because of some of these issues. I decided that I really don’t want everyone to know where I am, what I am doing. There really is no reason for everyone to know what I’m up to ;), unless for some reason I want them to know. If that is the case, I am more likely to just send a message directly to them.

    • Thanks for your comment. Take a look at your last post and you’ll find my comment there. Where and why will I go to your blog if you don’t publish anything new? :?

  5. Brilliant post, great that you included that pleaserobme website to add context. There have been so many debates on geographic location tagging devices, and the invasion of privacy, but this is a fresh take. Personally, I try to be honest online, so I will sometimes update with what I am doing, but never when there’s any risk of it negatively impacting me, and I always keep my locations hidden when my iPhone prompts me to ‘Allow’ it to detect my location. It’s so important to have privacy for safety, even when you’re honest online and choose friends carefully.

    With regard to your comment on my post: http://mycityshy.com/2010/10/07/social-networking-makes-you-a-liar/ I relate with what you said about staying honest with updates, but being too aware to let that ever endanger yourself or give out too much information. That’s why I don’t geo-tag on Facebook or here on WordPress, and never write anything that could incriminate myself, like I said in my post about not bad-mouthing my previous boss, or not lying to people saying I’m ill then going out somewhere else and updating, I’ve never done any of that. I’m only guilty of delayed responses sometimes, or not answering my phone despite being active online.

    Have you written any posts about conflicting with other people online? I’ll have a little search, but I just randomly thought of that because some people who do share too much personal information usually conflict or argue with other people online, and the people who share their every location usually get told off by other people online.

    • Thanks for your comment. Good that I don’t have an iPhone so I’m not prompted to share my location. Also, Foursquare isn’t here in Bangladesh. So, I could avoid it as well. I can manually share my location, for sure. Sometimes I do share my location, aware of that it will not endanger me or cause any trouble.

      I haven’t written any post about conflicting with other people online. Seems an interesting topic. Write up and I’ll read. :)

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  8. Just a couple of days ago I went to a talk with my class about human trafficking and the woman who was giving the speech said the same thing about Facebook status… I stopped doing that in December 2010 or so. I actually stopped doing it because I came to ask myself: why the hell am I telling other people what I’m doing, where I am going and how I feel? It’s just nonsense, what do they care? If they do, they can always ask. So now, I hardly ever write a Facebook status, and I’m totally happy with that :)

    PS: I’ve got Facebook friends who once in a while write: “I’m alone in my house”. My God, that’s like saying: “hey, who wants to rob me?” xD

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