February 17, 2011

Geo-Location based Social Media Sites and Networks A Safety Hazard?

Here I sit in a Fitness Center in another town, many miles away from home. My first instinct was to grab my smartphone and check-in on Foursquare and Whrrl. But just when I was about to touch the "check-in" button, I stopped in mid-touch. Do I really want the whole world to know where I am right now? Seriously.

Just recently, a fellow blogger's house got robbed. It got us all thinking. It got me thinking. Did her active participation in all these geo-location based social media applications contributed in her house being robbed? This thought is what made me stop. Am I really deliberately asking for trouble by publicly announcing that I'm not home and sending out an invitation that yes! you can go rob my house!?

Call it a paranoia or even moronic if you must, but admit it, there's also no way to discount the reality of it being possibly possible. With the drastic loss of privacy in the realm of modern technology, anyone can now easily access informations online and even see where you live! Thanks google earth but no thanks! Now take this sophisticated technology and into the hands of say, a techno savvy stalker or a professional robber, how do you think they would use all this available, easily-accessible resources? Nothing but to their advantage of course! Scary right?
They can find out where you live. They can see how your house looks like. They can easily get the direction to get to your house at a moments notice and worst you just gave them your current location!
Don't get me wrong. I'm a full-pledge techno geek. I love technology. I love high-tech gadgets. I love Foursquare. I love Whrrl. I love Twitter and all the other whatnots! Yes, they can be fun. Addictive even. I'm not even attempting to diss anyone BUT really? Where do you draw the line?

For safety's sake, here are some methods that makes perfect sense:
  • Turn all location indicators off - If you haven't noticed, it seem like every single application have a location-based option. Twitter have it. Google browser have it. Stop those urges to turn them on! Unless it makes you feel like the "coolest kid in the neighborhood" by having everyone know where you are ALL THE TIME.
  • Don't share - If your main purpose on Foursquare is to earn tons of cool badges, there is a way to do this without regularly publishing/sharing where you're at. Just enable the "not share" option and it will keep your location private while still recording the number of check-ins you've made. Now if you don't care and are aiming to get the "overshare" badge then by all means go share!
  • Control where you share - The beauty of some of these applications is that there is a setting where you can and cannot share them. Try them sometimes. They're good for you.
  • Share after the fact - One thing I like about Whrrl, is that you can create your story and share them the next day on the main site. All you do is do a backdate and you're set. Though this is not an option on the mobile app.
Safety and privacy is a diminishing factor in this modern society. If there's a way to preserve even just a piece of it in our lives, why not, right? Tell me, is there an application that flicks my finger every time it hits check-in on my phone?

Related Stories:
Privacy Not a Private Matter Anymore
How to Protect yourself when a giveaway goes wrong
How Skype saved the day {or night}
Nokia E73 a smartphone with an attitude

1 comment:

  1. This is a great article and I agree with you 100%. Technology can be a tool but in the wrong hands it can cause problems. I love & use your tips for safety's sake.


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