Please Rob Me!

Sometimes it’s better to keep some verbally shared information off of a social networking site, because unlike verbal communication, social media comments and status updates are set in stone. Third party websites and unsuspecting eyes can easily copy and store regrettable information that you posted even after deletion. Harmless information you post can be used against you. This falls along with modern inclinations to post anything about one’s life, and as Troni states “never in the course of human interaction have so many shared so much about themselves with so many others—and with so little apparent concern for their privacy.” With Facebook, even when you think you’re safe in a selected circle of friends, consequences can still arise even with a harmless status update about taking a vacation.

The Telegraph contains a story about Facebook warning it’s users about posting personal information after two burglars ransacked a home after the owner advertised that he was away on vacation. The two burglars, Peter Trower and Jospeh McClennan, had allegedly stalked Facebook waiting for the perfect opportunity to break into a house. One of the men was friends with the victim, and waited for the perfect revenge opportunity. A neighbor eventually caught them, and they became one of many cases of social media burglaries.

This issue also addresses the dangers of other social media applications such as Foursquare, which posts user’s whereabouts. It’s a location-based application that encourages users to list their location in order to receive badges, mayorship, and other perks. This interaction can easily backfire because it makes your home an easy target if you check-in at a location far from your home. In New Hampshire, a recent burglary ring was busted, and it was discovered that they used Facebook applications similar to Foursquare. This burglary ring also confessed that social media sites are great tools for modern criminals.

To tackle this issue, a website entitled Please Rob Me was created to raise awareness about the hazards of using Foursquare and other similar location-based applications. The site lists Foursquare updates from all users through the user’s twitter account, and it becomes accessible on Please Rob Me. The site states that, “the danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home.” They further stress that all this information you post can be accessible to anyone.

The purpose of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is to share your experiences, adventures, and opinions. However, this online experience is done at the expense of privacy. Yet, this privacy can be controlled.  Troni states that 61% of people in China and the United States agree that people online share too much information about their personal lives, and that it would be better to revert back to old traditions of being more private. Retaining more privacy online is an assuring thought, but it’s going to become increasingly difficult if you want an online presence on social media. It’s up to the user to filter their thoughts and personal information.

Do you ever consider the dangers of posting your whereabouts on Foursquare or Facebook? Does the exciting and fun interactivity of these applications make you forget the consequences of such actions?

Perhaps it’s better to consider what would be better said verbally rather than online. Users need to be more aware of privacy settings, and they should accept that there could be at least one deviant friend on one’s friend’s list.

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