The Digital Drivetrain
The automotive world's transition into the age of digital media

Come on in… nobody’s home

During the past few days of class we have been discussing various forms of social networking websites. My group was assigned the “mobile” category and was tasked with looking over several websites that had to do with on the go social networking. These sites, which included foursquare, gowalla, whrrl and brightkite, link your internet social networking to the real world by showing your geological location on your profile. This feature can be great for linking with friends in nearby areas and introduces the unique aspect of taking the social network from the internet to the pavement of the real world. Despite the websites potential, throughout my exploration  I kept thinking one thing: isn’t this sharing way too much information?

Think about it: you are putting your exact location on the internet. Anyone in your friend account can see this and if your privacy settings are not strict, anyone with an internet connection can view this. You think facebook stalking is creepy? Well now with these websites, web-creeps can take their facebook stalking into the next level; actual stalking. I admit that once or twice I just accepted a friend request without really varifying that a person was who they said they were, other times I accepted people just because they went to my school. All the creep has to do is make a semi-convincing profile and bam, next thing that sweaty bald guy from the gym is suddenly popping up at the movies, your dinner and behind you while you are jogging… And stalking is just the beginning of it.

So now that you now have people following you while you are out, what about your defenseless house? When you electronically publish you are at location X, it is quiet clear you are not at home. Imagine how big of a tool fourquare could be to a burglar. You might as well leave a massive sign on your front porch saying “I am not home” because with one click they can see where you are and how much time they have to rob your place. Plus, since foursquare keeps a record of everywhere you have been, they can even follow your patterns and get an even better time to rob you blind. Family dinners at Chilis every Sunday night are fun, but if everyone on the internet knows your entire family is there your house is basically a free for all.

As a general rule of thumb,  just know if it is on the internet, if someone wants the information that bad they can get it. There is no such thing as privacy online, even if company’s promise they are the fort Knox of the internet. You account can be hacked with a few clicks of a mouse and your privacy settings are only a short line of defense. Be smart people, keep what you want private off of the web.


3 Responses to “Come on in… nobody’s home”

  1. It’s scary how much information we put out without even thinking about it! It’ll be interesting to see if these “location” apps will continue to grow in popularity, or if the loss of security will start to deter people!

  2. I remember reading articles about how people would post that they were going on vacation and then they would get robbed. It’s sad that more people don’t think about the consequences of posting every detail of their lives online.

  3. Completely agree. People share way too much. Privacy is a second thought (if even that high) now for most people.

    I once bet a friend that I could withdraw 50 bucks from his bank account with what he said and typed online. He agreed. So I created a fake facebook account, friended him, then used all his info to figure out his account password. Funny how people list all the info you need to figure out their secret questions on facebook.

    Was very easy for him though. I just withdrew the 50 bucks from him, and saved him a cheque!

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