Here’s a question that’s been nagging me for a while:
Is it high-risk behavior to routinely use social media to let the world know where you are?
Consider this quick case study, then tell me if it makes you think twice about tweeting, posting and checking in your whereabouts. If it doesn’t, I’d like to know why.
4:27 p.m. Prospective criminal — let’s call him PC (in this case, it’s me) — logs in to HootSuite.
4:28 p.m. PC spots the following tweet from a male avatar — let’s call him IY: “I’m at Sunrise Inn (street address, city name).” The tweet includes a foursquare URL. HootSuite shows that IY published the tweet 27 minutes ago.
4:29 p.m. PC studies IY’s Twitter profile and notes that IY lives in a U.S. city and describes himself as a consultant and best-selling author.
4:30 p.m. Sensing an opportunity, PC checks the online White Pages. He finds addresses for two individuals by the same name, IY, one of which has the middle initial F.
4:32 p.m. PC checks LinkedIn and finds one profile for a man named IY. No middle initial indicated.
4:33 p.m. PC scrolls the LinkedIn profile and finds that IY is president of his own company. The company name is a three-letter acronym: IFY, Inc. PC is fairly certain that it’s IFY who is visiting the Sunrise Inn.
4:35 p.m. PC returns to the online White Pages to pinpoint IFY’s street address.
4:37 p.m. PC checks MapQuest to discover that, assuming IFY is still at the Sunrise Inn, he’s more than 55 miles, or a little more than an hour, from home. Even if IFY left the Sunrise Inn just prior to tweeting, he’s very likely 30 minutes or more from home.
As a member of IFY’s online community, what can I do with the news that he’s at a hotel (or a movie theater, or a restaurant) in a certain city at a certain time? Not much. This sort of social media update is of little information, conversation or entertainment value.
But what if I really am a prospective criminal, and I’ve got burglary, vandalism or another form of mayhem in mind? Maybe this sort of tweet is my opportunity to act. To strike.
I’m probably a fuddy duddy when it comes to “here’s where I am, here’s what I’m doing” information sharing. But it seems to me that if we want to keep our loved ones and homes safe and secure, we’re OK sharing who we are, what we think, what we know, etc. But where we are? That’s information best left unpublished.
What do you think? See any cause for concern in the IFY behavior described above? I’m eager to be educated if I’m missing the point on “here’s where I am, here’s what I’m doing” social media updates. Please enlighten me with comments below.