…It Tweets for Thee.
Privacy has always been a victim of social media, it has just taken a few years for many of us to realize it. From today’s media, one would think that the world has delved into some paranoid Orwellian state with Big Business and Big Brother arm-in-arm fingering through your receipts and Foursquare posts. Do-Not-Track legislation is already becoming a thorn in the industry’s paw, and now Congress is setting sights on Social Media. The government worries that sites like Facebook, responsible for billions of pieces of personal information, are selling users to third-party data-miners. As one software start-up discovered, the truth is much worse.
Willook, creators of Facebook app If I Die, began a unique awareness campaign to push the idea that death can strike at any time. Following meta-data and geolocation information left behind in tweets from target customers, Willook was able to locate where these customers were, and to call them up on the phone. They would inform the stunned victim that “like this phone call, death can strike at any time. Don’t you want to leave a last message before it’s too late?”
Tasteless? We think so.
Legal and simple to pull off? Yes.
As it turns out, while Congress has been worried that Mark Zuckerberg was sneaking through back doors, the supposed victims were leaving the front doors open and all the lights on. Several groups have attempted to raise awareness of the dangers of telling anyone and everyone when your home is unguarded, but we seem to have been caught unaware in this case. The vast majority of Twitter users probably do not realize that every single tweet they send can be tracked to a near-exact location, all the way back to the day they created the account. With minimal effort, anyone can string those tweets together to build a roadmap just as detailed as your tweets are frequent.
We should point out, we are not trying to dissuade anyone from taking advantage of the benefits of social media. However, a certain level of personal responsibility should be instilled before Congress decides that we simply can’t be trusted with it.
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