We all do it; letting our friends know we’ve gone out to see a movie, we’re at the park, the mall or our favourite restaurant. It seems harmless at first, updating status’, tweeting, blogging but how far is too far? We never seem to think twice about sharing our daily activities online from the mundane to the insane, so letting your friends know you’ve left the country, the city or even the house has never been something to dwell on, until now.
Earlier this year a website called www.pleaserobme.com began raising awareness on this topic and has since received a lot of attention for their approach. The site is no longer running but essentially it used Twitters search functionality to show location based updates from people all over the world who had no problem letting everyone know exactly where they were. The creators of this website had a simple message, take caution in what you post online that may let others know when you aren’t at home.
Location based applications such as Four Square are allowing users to check-in and notify all their friends of their current location. An awesome way to find trendy new hangouts and the best sushi in town, but on the flip side you’re letting everyone know that you aren’t home. These applications are revolutionizing the way consumers interact with businesses and brands. Although they may seem flawed, it is our responsibility, as account holders on these social media sites, to restrict our content, maintain our privacy, and interact only with people we know and trust. It becomes very easy to point fingers in a situation such as this but when someone leaves their entire Facebook profile (cell phone number and all) completely open to the public and adds 1085 people they have never even met in a race to be popular, I find it difficult to sympathize.
We value our privacy offline so why is the internet so different? We build large fences around our back yards, we lock our car doors, and we guard our credit cards and social security number with our life. Aside from the frequent criticism of Facebook’s policy, privacy seems to have taken a back seat when it comes to social media. In the past few years people seem to have grown more comfortable with the internet and have gone from providing fake names to posting full addresses and phone numbers.
Before the internet blossomed into what it is today, people used phone books to look up an address or telephone number. Today, personal database sites like www.dirtyphonebook.com are offering “uncensored people reviews” that prompt visitors to enter phone numbers and leave comments about the people with that specific number. Websites like www.pipl.com are powered by search engines that pull data on a specific person from every corner of the internet from facebook profile photos and data to news stories from local papers. Websites like these are causing a growing concern as internet users attempt to defend what little privacy they have left. Check the privacy settings on mobile apps and social networking sites so you know exactly what is being shared and remember, sometimes less really is more.