Can a Phone App Make You a Stalker Target?
Imagine if there was an app that could map out where you were along with your name, photo and personal information? Anyone with the app can browse photos of people near them and tap their thumbnail to find out all their details. Creepy right? Well, there is, it’s called Girls Around Me.
The app used data from Foursquare to show people who have checked in near you, displaying not only their location, but also their name and photo with a link to their public profile on Facebook. While it wasn’t necessarily breaking any laws, critics say users didn’t opt-in and were being tracked without their knowledge or approval. Foursquare has since cut off access to the app.
This is a very sensitive topic for me. I used to have a stalker when I worked in news and he is now behind bars. I take my privacy very seriously. I don’t use FourSquare and I never will. I don’t like to check-in or be checked in by other people. Nothing against FourSquare, I’m cautious with anything that states my exact location. Now that I’m a blogger and involved in social media it’s hard to keep everything private, but I do think twice every time I post or tweet. I know, it sucks to have to be that guarded, but it’s reality. I hate that Facebook and other social media sites continue to change their privacy settings all the time, and it gets more and more confusing. You have to keep up to date or you may be sharing more than you think you are.
Social media is part of our culture now and yes, I guess I could just boycott it all together and go off the grid, but that isn’t realistic. I don’t think there is anything wrong with using social media and sharing, but you do need to take internet privacy seriously and you should be in control of who has access to your information. I don’t blame the company that developed the app. If you put your location and personal information out there publicly you should assume it’s public and anyone can have access to it. However, I don’t like how easy the app makes it to aggregate the information and track people with their photos and profiles. That’s exactly why Foursquare said it violated their rules, "We have a policy against aggregating information across venues using information from our service, to prevent situations like this where someone would present an inappropriate overview of a series of locations.” So this app is unavailable for now, but there will probably be another one to take it’s place. This privacy issue is not going away. Ladies, this is your wake-up call! Check you accounts, check your phone and make sure you know what you are sharing.
Here’s a link to great post on how to change your privacy settings.
Internet safety tips: