The Creepy Side of Social Media 2

There’s been a lot of publicity this week given to a new site called pleaserobme.com.  Yes, you read that right — please rob me dot com.  It’s an interesting concept that brings to light some of the dangerous aspects of social media.  It’s not an application that’s really designed to get your television stolen; it’s just meant to call out how goofy we get online.  Think about the information we willingly disclose online in the name of badges.  I live here.  I am going here.  I’ll be seeing a movie for the next two hours.  Now I am going to dinner here.  It’s pretty scary stuff if you stop and think about it.

Do you foursquare?  This is the real culprit in our giveaway explosion.  It’s a pretty fun concept.  You check in at different locations using your smart phone with geo-location  capability.  You can win badges for checking in at different places, and become the “mayor” of a place where you have checked in the most.  It’s really all in good fun.  There are some pretty awesome business applications for this technology.  It’s a great “real-life” social tool as well.  You can check in somewhere and possibly meet others who do the same.

I would say it might make sense to do a self-evaluation of your online life.  Do you feel comfortable sharing this kind of information with the millions on Twitter?  Maybe you do; maybe you don’t.  Mr. pleaserobme is just grabbing this information from the public Twitter feed.  There’s no magic involved.

Think about it.  Here’s the Why section from pleaserobme.com.  Check it out.

Hey, do you have a Twitter account? Have you ever noticed those messages in which people tell you where they are? Pretty annoying, eh. Well, they’re actually also potentially pretty dangerous. We’re about to tell you why.

Don’t get us wrong, we love the whole location-aware thing. The information is very interesting and can be used to create some pretty awesome applications. However, the way in which people are stimulated to participate in sharing this information, is less awesome. Services like Foursquare allow you to fulfill some primeval urge to colonize the planet. A part of that is letting everyone know you own that specific spot. You get to tell where you are and if you’re there first, it’s yours. O, and of course there’s badges..

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.

The goal of this website is to raise some awareness on this issue and have people think about how they use services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz etc. Because all this site is, is a dressed up Twitter search page. Everybody can get this information.

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