Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, April 15, 2011

One reason I don't like the location functions on websites

Just how creepy is 'Creepy'? A test-drive
You probably know that some Internet and cell phone applications like Foursquare or Twitter can broadcast your location to the world. And you might know that Web sites with names like PleaseRobMe and ICanStalkYou have been created with shock value in mind to call attention to the potential consequences of broadcasting such information. But those sites picked on random individuals and exposed their whereabouts one at a time.

A new software tool created by Greek programmer Yiannis Kakavas goes much farther in the shock category. Called “Creepy,” Kakavas' tool makes it easy to gather all the location-based digital breadcrumbs that people leave online and plot them on a map. The map and associated time stamps make it easy to discern their routines -- “It looks like Bob goes to this coffee shop every Friday morning around 10:30” -- a tool of incalculable use to a would-be stalker. For Web users who loyally leave breadcrumbs everywhere ("Now at Whiskey Bar!" "Now at Park Diner," "Finally home") it's possible to recreate much of their daily lives using Creepy.

What's more, unlike ICanStalkYou, users can search for any Foursquare, Twitter or Flickr user they want. Kakavas tool also adds a handy handle-search tool, in case you only know your stalking subject by their real name.
As someone about to buy a GPS-enabled phone, I am not turning on location data for Twitter or playing Foursquare for just such a reason. I know it's probably easy enough to tell the area where I live from my writing here(and obviously there's a link to my resume on this page, so you can tell where I work), but I don't want everyone else to know exactly where I am at any given time. Why would anyone want to? That's what I don't understand. Isn't it enough that the phone companies and who knows what other entities know where we are?

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