We have just done a reading for COMM506 from Cult of Mac by John Brownlee entitled This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy.
In the article, his plea to women and all Facebook users alike, he uses a mobile app called Girls Around Me (now defunct) to explain how sites like Facebook and apps like FourSquare are making it easy for people to be traced, sometimes without their knowledge.
What Girls Around Me did was pull data from Facebook, FourSquare and Google Maps and combined them into one program. The premise was that should anyone who’s profile was open to the public check into a location using FourSquare or Facebook, their image along with their location cropped up on the Google Map, allowing anyone with the app in the vicinity to see exactly who was around them and to find out more. Turns out that if your Facebook profile was open, not only did your image and name show up, but users of the app could click and view further information such as your where you work, what you like and your photo albums.
Like Brownlee’s friends, I was appalled that such an app existed. While the creators weren’t breaking any laws (the information was already public), it was certainly scary to think of how vulnerable the app was making these girls, who yes, according to Brownlee should have known better. But, there are still those who are trusting of others, and the idea of having all of their information laid out there without them knowing it is worrisome to say the least.
That’s why I always have the geolocation/geotagging function on my phone turned off and that’s why after reading this article I immediately went to double check my Facebook privacy and account settings. You can never be too careful, so be smart and be safe. Lock it down!