Foursquare and other forms of technology should be used with caution, as the applications advertise where you are and when you’re not at home.
I have 545 “friends” on Facebook.
If I used Foursquare – the new tracking application sweeping the Web-enabled nation – all 545 people would know where I am 24-7.
Foursquare tracks a user’s whereabouts, and users can earn points, “badges” and become the “mayors” of places they frequently visit by “checking in.” But becoming the mayor of Maxi’s isn’t worth the dangerous implications of Foursquare, and the application should be avoided.
If there are more unknowns than known friends on your friend list and you’re a Foursquare user, then you have an issue. These people can find anyone, and who knows what they want? This is especially dangerous for young women, Dr. Justin Shi, an associate professor for Temple’s computer and information sciences department, said.
“Allow only known people to be your friends,” Shi said. “You must also be aware that your friend’s account might be taken over by someone else at times.”
We do live in a society filled with creepers, including ex-boyfriends and -girlfriends, who some of us would rather not see anymore, even if we remain friends with them on Facebook.
Such people can track a Foursquare user’s every move and find that person every time he or she “checks in” to places. Creeped out enough yet?
“Services such as Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Buzz can alert criminals when users are not home,” the U.K. Telegraph published in a report from Confused.com, a price-comparison service.
“Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their information gathering,” Darren Black, the head of home insurance at Confused.com, told the Telegraph, “even using Google Earth and Streetview to plan their burglaries with military precision.”
Mashable.com, a social media guide website, acknowledged PleaseRobMe.com, which “aggregate[s] publicly shared check-ins” in an “attempt to shed more light on the dangerous side effects of location sharing.”
“The danger is publicly telling people where you are,” the creators of PleaseRobMe.com say on their site. “This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the Internet we’re not home. It gets even worse if you have ‘friends’ who want to colonize your house.”
I can see how this application could be useful for business owners tracking their customer flow, but it’s certainly not helpful for individuals, even if they choose to use the service.
Foursquare is partly popular because users can see where their friends are at all times. But has technology clogged our minds so much that we are no longer capable of making a simple phone call to these friends instead? With applications like Foursquare, we are risking our safety just to partake in “the next big thing.”
In our tech-obsessed culture, we’ve strayed too far from the simple things in life and put ourselves at risk. Think of what our ancestors, who were around when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, would think. Back then, they too were happy to have a more efficient means of communication, but Foursquare takes it too far, since we don’t often want to communicate with the people who know our every move. Typically, if a person really wants to see another person, they’ll reach out via a text message or phone call.
Most of the technology in our modern age is good for us if we use it in moderation. Computers, cell phones and Steve Jobs’ army of Apple products – iPods, iPhones, iPads, et cetera – are great, except for when an iPhone is tracking your whereabouts through Foursquare. It’s all about using technology responsibly.
Ryan Rosengrant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.