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Web site announces you're not home

Please Rob Me points out how vulnerable you can be when using location-sharing services like Foursquare.

By Karen Datko Feb 17, 2010 9:50PM

We’re not really interested that you’ve just spent $1 on a double cheeseburger at Burger King (going to $1.19 in April, by the way) so we won’t be tracking you on Blippy. And we don’t really care where you are right now, so while you might be sharing your location with your social-networking friends, Foursquare isn’t for us.

 

But someone else might care and, a new Web site points out in a somewhat humorous way, that someone might be a burglar. “Please Rob Me mocks all of the Foursquare users that have told Twitter to automatically broadcast their whereabouts,” Chris Gaylord wrote at The Christian Science Monitor.

 

TechCrunch explains how Please Rob Me works:

The site automatically scans Twitter feeds to find location check-ins that are being tweeted out. It then shows them in this stream, and also pings the person on Twitter with a message like:
Hi @NAME, did you know the whole world can see your location through Twitter? #pleaserobme.com
You can also use the filter on top of the site to show when specific people aren’t home (by their Twitter name), or sort by location.

"Our intention is not, and never has been, to have people burglarized," Please Rob Me explains. "Don't get us wrong, we love the whole location-aware thing. … 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.”

Jennifer Leggio at ZDNet polled readers about whether Please Rob Me is unethical. “It mostly picks on those users who automatically post their locations to a public Twitter feed. While those people deserve to be mocked (it’s senseless, really), there’s a serious question here: Is Please Rob Me actually helping the problem or making it worse?” she said.

 

A plurality (30%), last time we checked, said “people deserve to be mocked,” and others were almost equally divided on whether Please Rob Me goes overboard. To the question “Do you now think twice about geolocational services?” 67% said yes.

 

Perhaps some people need to be reminded of how many other people are seeing their posts. Maybe Please Rob Me has gotten its point across.

 

What do you think? Is Please Rob Me going too far? Are people putting themselves or their homes at risk by sharing too much information, including where they are and aren’t?

 

Related reading:

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