Geolocation and Social Media – Do You Really want to be THAT Transparent?

Want to rob someone blind with minimal risk of getting caught? Here's a simple 3-step program: (Not that I recommend doing this, BTW!)

  1. Find someone you want to burglarize who
    a. Has a Twitter account
    b. Uses a geolocation service, like www.foursquare.com
  2. Watch their feed for an announcement that they're someplace else, or better yet, out of town.
  3. Break in, grab their stuff, and beat a quick exit – through they probably won't even realize that they're stuff is gone until several days later when they get back into town.

Think that's impossible? Go to search.twitter.com and do a search on the following term:

4sq [email protected]

Geolocation and Social Media - foursquare

Look at the second listing down, lankyguy – it's looking a lot like he's vacationing in Hawaii.

Jump to his twitter feed, sure enough, that's what he's doing. And look, his name's Kyle Baxter and he's from New York.


Now let's google Kyle Baxter New York. Sure enough, the first result on the list shows his resume, including his phone number and enough data to indicate that he's the actor who's twitter page we located earlier.

using geolocation

I'll stop here so as to not give more information to the stupid criminals out there who haven't managed to figure out how to find his address on their own, but suffice it to say, I've only been working on this for 5 minutes, and I know an address of at least one guy who probably has some pretty sweet loot sitting unguarded in his apartment right now. (Sorry, Kyle, hope your stuff's there when you get home, you may want to be more careful next time!)

foursquare geolocationHere's the key question – are you being too transparent and in doing so, inviting every lowlife in the world to steal your stuff?

Or are you being wise and using social media with discretion.

For those of you who follow me, do you have any idea from my feed, my blog and other sources that I've been to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami in the last 3 weeks? When I travel, I occasionally post articles and pictures from the trip, but never until after I arrive home. I recommend that you do the same.

Also, consider the value added to your audience by proclaiming that you are currently on your way to somewhere else. Yes, it may cause some jealousy, but what do they care that you're currently in “Dulles Airport with 4 other people“?

This is a serious enough issue that insurance companies are announcing that they will increase your insurance premiums by 10% or more if you choose to belong to these services. Frankly, I think that's low – you're likely to see significantly higher increases than that, especially after the first time you get burgled.

I don't know about you, but for me, the risk of revealing presence is too high. Plus, the potential for people unfollowing you because all you ever post about is where you're eating lunch creates more negatives than positives.

My recommendation? Just say no to geolocation and don't reveal your travels in your social media stream!

And those of you at Twitter, Facebook, etc.? Please think twice before making this technology public and absolutely, give those of us who are smart enough not to use it, the ability to opt out!

Agree or disagree with me? Think I'm shortsighted or not “social” enough in this opinion? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Don Crowther

Don Crowther is a leading marketing, business strategy and online marketing expert. He helps companies ranging from Fortune-500-level giants to entrepreneurs make more money online using proven strategic and marketing techniques.

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