Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Dark Side Of The Force

Networking. Social Status. Facebook. Hundreds of apps. Thousands of friends...and "legitimised stalkers".
I've written cautionary posts in the past about information flow, and how much can be given away unknowingly. Cameron Scott wrote an article for Computerworld last week, about how a new app was compiling data from Facebook and other social networks, to help users track down single unsuspecting women! The mobile app Girls Around Me has now been pulled.
But this reveals just how much people still have to learn about social networking. If you're not some tragic soul who updates your status every five minutes, then you may know someone who (sadly) does. The Girls Around Me app collected data from the social network FourSquare - showing local bars where women had checked in - and matched that with info from their Facebook profiles, including photos and dating status. Hey presto: instant "no-strings nookie radar"! Crawlers could see how many single women were in a particular nightspot, what they looked like, what their names were. Creepy!
But the real tragedy? All these details were supplied freely by social network users. Bambi thinks it's harmless fun to tell her friends she just arrived at Rocky's Roadhouse wearing a tight pink halter and Daisy Dukes, having dumped boyfriend Chuck last week. But if that info is taken out of context, it could have potentially dangerous consequences.
Many people have no idea the amount of information they're sharing on-line. Remember the 2010 dramas over Facebook's privacy settings? Mind you, app developers often think, if information is available they can develop it any way they see fit. Combine that with users not always understanding how revealing their digital information can be, and privacy breaches are bound to occur.
Just because it's technologically possible, is no justification for necessarily doing it. At the same time, Bambi must engage brain before revealing all to her 14,391 genuine friends...
PS: 11 April 2012Wall Street Journal has just published an interesting article about personal details being used by Facebook...

1 comment:

Liz Clark said...

Social Media can be used in the most dangerous of ways. I've witnessed that with the use of Facebook Pages being launched against individuals. One I've watched for three years that has created a near cult like attitude complete with propaganda style posts designed to destroy and convince their followers that it's all truth. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Term 'Anti- Social Media comes to mind' I use Facebook, and Twitter on a daily basis. But yeah stuff like that app is a dangerous reminder of just how vunerable we all really are when we use these types of mediums.