The Dangers of Geolocation February 17, 2010Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
Tags: 4square, Foursquare, geolocation, Pleaserobme, privacy, social media, twitter
Mashable has read my mind again – or rather, I should say, Pleaserobme.com, has read my mind. Over the weekend my Dad pointed out that I had posted his vacation days on his [Facebook] wall, and that this could be dangerous. I pointed out to him that Facebook could be private, given the right settings. But he made a good point, one I have thought about time after time when I look at my Foursquare app and decide not to use it. The same goes for declining Twitter’s geotagging options. When and why did we ever decide we should tell the public at large where we are at any given time? The idea goes against everything we have been taught to do–leaving a TV on so that people think you are home, keeping location secret on dating sites, and, more generally, enjoying a thing called privacy. These sites are just another step in the annihilation of privacy. My paranoid-“down with the man” side sets off alarm bells every time I see (and use my own) GPS enabled devices, knowing that this is just one more way for people to know exactly where I am. Sure 911, Onstar, and other services use these tracking technologies to save lives, but what about Federal agencies using telecommunication records to find criminals? No one would argue that law enforcers should not have access to cell phone records, including geolocation data, with a warrant. But CNET reported less than a week ago that, “the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ in their–or at least their cell phones’–whereabouts.” Really? Says who? If the government has a reason to look at my records, then go ahead, but if not, I’ll hold onto the last vestiges of privacy, thank you very much.
But enough about the government, Pleaserobme.com, has brought a very important problem to light–the dangers of revealing your location to an online audience. The site compiles posts from Foursquare and calls them “opportunities” (meaning opportunities for you to rob them). It will be interesting to see if this site, which is gaining a lot of attention on Twitter, will be the demise of Foursquare (which has recently been dubbed “the next Twitter”), or if people will continue to blithely post their whereabouts. What do you think?