Friday, April 15, 2011

Do You Know Who Knows Where You Are?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 4:00 PM

On my way to my empty apartment to take a long, hot bath and ... oh, maybe I shouldnt tweet that ...
  • "On my way to my empty apartment to take a long, hot bath and ... oh, maybe I shouldn't tweet that ..."
Social networking—in particular services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Twitter—has made expanding your social circle a heck of a lot easier. With a simple update on your smartphone, you can dazzle all your followers with just how popular and busy you are, sending out one blast after another broadcasting where you are and, conversely, where you aren't.

Of course, it's all fun and games until someone gets stalked. Most of us have heard the tales of homes being robbed after their owners posted their vacation plans on Facebook, but most people would be shocked to realize just how much of themselves they're revealing.

Making people understand how vulnerable they are is the idea behind a new tool called Creepy. Created by Greek programmer Yiannis Kakavas, Creepy uses online social networking tools to piece together a picture of someone's patterns and habits, creating a map of where the subject of the search hangs out, places he or she favors, and even what time of day he or she is typically there.

It's enough to make you think again about that next Twitter update.

According to, Kakavas' plan isn't to create the ultimate one-stop-shop for stalkers and assorted criminals, but to make people think about the fact that with each update or check-in, they are broadcasting a whole lot of information to strangers.

Of course, technology can always come back to bite a criminal in the ass. Recently, officials in North Carolina were able to charge a man with the 2008 murder of his wife after they found the following evidence on his personal laptop: Google maps leading to where his wife's body was found, his wife's emails outlining her intentions to leave him and take their children to Canada, and emails detailing his affair with another woman.

Kind of makes you look at your smartphone a little differently, doesn't it?

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