I’ve long been disturbed by location-based updates from social media land. Programs like Foursquare and Gowalla allow users to “check in” upon arrival and “check out” when departing destinations like their apartment complex, home, coffee shop or gym. Repeat visits can result in the receipt of titles that have no bearing in the real world like “Mayor of X Location” or “Gym Rat.” To me, these location-based status updates seem like an invitation to crime, like assault at your current location or robbery at the place you just left as your status has alerted everyone who’s a friend (or everyone on Twitter) to your whereabouts.
To be fair, I do recognize that mine is the pessimistic view of my fellow man, but at the same time, we live in an imperfect world and bad things do happen. And I found that others agree with me. Time Magazine wrote an article on the possible negative consequences of this location sharing and calls status updates like these “over-sharing.” They direct readers to Please Rob Me, a site that uses Twitter’s search capability to show location messages. The intent of the cautionary Please Rob Me is to make users aware of how much they’re sharing when they choose to partake in location-based updates. These are more than Twitter’s “what’s happening?” or Facebook’s ubiquitous “what’s on your mind?” They essentially create a real time homing device for millions to see. While some may like for the fake titles or meeting up with friends without a phone call, I’ll choose the safer route of under-sharing
(Header image is a screen shot from PleaseRobMe.com.)