I saw this post from my friend Andrew Hyde on the homepage of Tech Meme today and judging by the number of reactions he got his story struck a nerve. Long story short: in the course of using LBS apps like Bright Kite and Foursquare to announce his location he picked up a stalker who would coincidently “bump into him” wherever he went. Creepy.
So the “people knowing where I am and stalking me” scenario is one potential negative implication of using these types of services. But there’s another to consider:
Not only do these services tell the world where you are, they also tell the world where you aren’t.
My friend Bill said it most eloquently the other day when I had posted this tweet:
PHX -> SFO
This is a pretty standard convention when you’re going on a trip. He cleverly responded:
Bill -> Sean’s house -> Pawn Shop -> Casino
And immediately I realized he’s right.
Twitter is just one surface area too. I also have my LinkedIn account integrated with my Tripit account so that it passively tells my contacts when and where I’m traveling. Presumably there’s no threat from people you’re connected to but as these social networks gravitate towards being more and more public (as FB has demonstrated recently) innocent location announcements to trusted friends become inadvertent invitations to burglars with remedial googling skills. Add in a little smoke screen creativity by placing a hoax Craigslist ad and you have a repeatable formula for low-risk burglaries.
Something to think about.