Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Please Rob Me

Jennifer Van Grove from Mashable.com checks-in with a report about an interesting new website that highlights the potential dangers of social media networks with location sharing services like Loopt, Foursquare and Google Buzz.

The creators of the PleaseRobMe.com offer this description of their website:
The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you're definitely not... home. So here we are; on one end we're leaving lights on when we're going on a holiday, and on the other we're telling everybody on the internet we're not home. It gets even worse if you have "friends" who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That's right, slap them across the face.
As Van Grove points out, there is evidence that criminals are using information gleaned from these social networking services to do more than commit cyber fraud. In some cases, criminals are using this information to aid in burglary. In a separate report for Mashable.com, Van Grove wrote
Unfortunately, over-sharing of this variety has been known to cause adverse side effects. Most recently, Israel Hyman (@izzyvideo), a video podcaster, took a trip to the midwest with his family and twittered about the excursion. He came home to find that his house had been burglarized.


This site is just another example of how many in their rush to adopt the latest social media tool inadvertently share too much of their personal information.

4 comments:

Katie said...

I think Jennifer Van Grove makes some good points in her article about the potential dangers of social media networks with location sharing services. I think there still needs to be more awareness about sharing location status' over the internet. Burglars and criminals would be stupid not to use information from social networking services to their advantage. Putting certain information on the internet about yourself is putting information out for anyone in the world to see. We have learned how easy it is to find information out about anyone, and I think it is important that this is stressed more to the general public. I think it would be a good idea for grade schools, high schools, and colleges to post articles like this one in their school newspaper. People might be more conscious of sharing where they are located over the internet if they knew that a random person could take that information and then go to their house and rob them or something. I wonder if the number of robberies has increased since almost all of America has joined at least one social network where they write their status for their "friends" to see. If I were to sign on facebook I know on my home page I would see at least 5 status' saying that people are places other than their homes. This is not safe and I can guarantee that almost all of these people did not think for a second that this was dangerous information to post on their profiles.

Marisa said...

At first I asked myself how dumb people could be?
But my Facebook statuses have occasionally included such choice tidbits as where I'm going on vacation and whether I'm home or at school. These new sites might just be the next generation of social media, but they are scarily dangerous in blurring the line between digital and physical realm - and those connections to friends are increasingly dangerous as your safety is literally in their hands. Suddenly, it becomes not just your network but friends' and even so your network is probably much larger than the close friends with whom your whereabouts are safe and securely comfortable. Besides, you never know when they'll turn and try to publish incriminating information, a la drunkengeorgetownstudents.com, which raises interesting questions, although the site owner was forced to take down individual addresses.

Marisa said...

Sorry didn't paste the whole comment: Just like you can unwittingly share your address with burglars, and angry neighbors can attempt to share your address with friends, we here of stories like the angry ex who published a 'free for all' on craigslist at a former mate's address. The marriage of sharing with friends and unwittingly with others can also come on the other side of the law. In my own town, cops found out about a party being publicized via Facebook and showed up.

Julia said...

I didn’t even think about this aspect of facebook! I realized that twittering where you are going and when you leave home is stupid, but facebook is doing the same thing. There are even applications in place, which literally present your travel plans. A lot of my friends use inTown (http://apps.facebook.com/in_town_app). I just really think that we all are loosing control (or never had it) over how the internet degenerates. Just how far will this go …
When I was flying home (winterbreak) the Austrian newspapers featured a very interesting article about facebook. On the one side it explained how governments in Europe started prohibiting facebook for government employees at work. But the more important story was the one about the wife of the future head of the MI6 blow his cover and probably destroyed his career. What basically happened. The wife of future “M” (for bond fans I hope this is understandable) started a facebook account with NO privacy settings whatsoever. On a sidenote at the time facebook had already more than 200 million users worldwide. She made her account very detailed oriented. So she included the address of their apartment, of their children and of their parents. She also included very private pictures of all family members. Finally she was nicely telling everybody where they are when. No wonder her husband will probably not get the job.
http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article6644199.ece
It doesn’t end there. Facebook is obviously not able to control all of their accounts and check their liability. Parents do not know what their children post on facebook. Furthermore, younger and younger children started using facebook. They do not understand the dangers. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/mar/09/ukcrime-facebook)