A recent tweet from Corvida Raven, pointed out this article about a “creepy” app that located nearby women and provided the app with as much public information as possible about those women. The creepy aspect is when a guy could find a woman near him, that he thought was attractive via this app. And also via this app, could find out where she was recently and how long ago, her likes, dislikes, friends, job, etc. via public information on social networks like Facebook and Foursquare. However, the key word is PUBLIC. It only shows what you allow people to see.
My circle of friends on Foursquare is quite small. For just that very reason. I don’t want/need everyone in the world to know where I am. Yes, I like Foursquare and use it a lot. But do I need to broadcast to a potential stalker that I am at the gym right now? No, I do not.
I also do not post checkins to Facebook, where my circle of friends is quite a bit larger. Most importantly, when Facebook places came out, I immediately disabled the ability for other people to check me into places. I want to control when I check in and who sees it. Not my drunken friends.
Note that it isn’t the default to disable that. I had to go in and disable it. I’ve also locked down my Facebook security such that only my friends can see stuff. Not friends of friends or public (except for the occasional status update that I KNOWINGLY set to public). I don’t tweet my Foursquare checkins either, unless it is at a conference, where I know lots of people and don’t have a problem being public. I have created my own rules for who I friend where, and what gets posted to whom on all my social networks. I have groups in Facebook to post appropriately, with default posts set to a limited group. This may all sound paranoid and not very “social”, but just look at the creepy app and tell me I’m wrong to think about these things.
So the question arises, do you even know what items you are posting publicly versus privately? Do you actively manage that? Do you change the defaults or even review them on social networks? You wouldn’t walk around a public place handing out your phone number and address on a flyer, so why would you do the virtual equivalent online?