Monthly Archives: October 2008

Reverse location broadcasting

Are stars humans?  Do they have private lives?  Imagine if everytime you attempted to go to the store, buy a coffeee or eat with friends and family they took pictures and asked for autographs?  Sounds tough.  But now let’s take it to the next step.  Imagine if someone was broadcasting, not just to their friend over a quick cell phone call, but to everyone in the world?  A site is not live that does just that.

Gawker Stalker was launched where you go in and put the exact place, time and who was spotted.  People are entering what the star is wearing, what they chose to eat or drink and even their supposed emotion at that moment.  A mashup Google map sits on the side and gives number locations for the stars on the left.

So for thsoe hungry to just see a star, their privacy was just shot down one more notch, where they are not getting into a social network and sending their location, someone else is for them.

How a Facebook status invoked violence

In a BBC News article from October 17th I found the following… then the commentary

A man has been jailed for life for stabbing his wife to death over a posting she made on the social networking site Facebook.

We first send thoughts to the family affected by this.  Physical voilence stemming from comments, postings and updates made to social networking sites is becoming more prevalent.  Luckily the gentleman received prison time for his actions after pleading guilty.

So how did it transpire?  The woman and man break up, he is still her “friend” on Facebook.  Soon after he moves out from their home, she changes her status to say single, letting everyone that sees her status know she is no longer involved with someone.  He is still listed as a person (or friend) that can see her updates, finds the change online and gets upset enough to drive over and start physical harm.  This is in no way the fault of the victim, but a lesson in preventative measures just the same.

Is projecting this massive amount of personal information really necessary?  Is telling someone where you are eating, standing in line or shopping important enough for everyone to know? Or just family?  Maybe close friends? How about your current relationship status?  Wouldn’t those that needed to know find out through other contacts in a timely manner? 

We casually glance as we fill in mundane field after mundane field, never imagining that something so trivial could turn deadly.  Yet we are not the other person, the one watching your profile.  In this instance, I would imagine the man that was shunned was almost at the point of stalking,w atching her every update and news to be part of what he is no longer.

These are some of the items that we look upon as fun or silly inside of the social networks, but due to the unknown reaction of the watchers, they become a catalyst for behaviors that are unexpected.  Think twice before you sill out every possible amount of your profile on the networks and evaluate if it changes the meaning, usefulness or even provides value for yourself and those you are connected to.

Hiding Yourself from Stalking with Private Numbers

One of the ways, we as humans, like to communicate is still the telephone.  In the world of social networking, who knows the reality of who the other person is on the other side of your conversations is.  That is until you have met them in real life.  So how do we get to that point of trust?  We start with a simple phone call.  A fear by some, and rightfully so, is giving out your phone number to protect yourself from the infinite amount of calls you could receive, inordinate amount of text messages and even locating you by using your phone number and the Internet.

Some people feel that unless you openly publish your phone number in the phone book, a reverse directory (found freely on the Internet) would be of no use to anyone even with your home number.  That is also incorrect.  We are reaching the time where even the phone companies make mistakes and phone numbers get reused quickly.  We had this issue when getting a new phone number years ago and the barrage of calls began looking for the person that had the number just months before.  From there you get into simple reverse lookups that will show the exact area that a number is dedicated for, so the stalker has a starting point.

So what is a solution to all of this?  You invest in an Internet number to protect your privacy.  With these, you mask your true phone number and also gain invaluable tools through many of the sites that offer this service.  A few even offer hooks into VOIP solutions meaning you can talk over your computer wherever you are, for free.

Let me simplify this for my readers that are newer to the Internet, social networking or even reading this to help their kids.  Protecting yourself from social stalking reaches far beyond a fake screen name and never saying where you live or what school you attend.  Kids (and some adults) feel the phone is still a safe option.  It isn’t anymore.

GrandCentral

This is now owned by Google and has some incredibly powerful features.

  • I can sort callers into groups and ring specific phones (cell, home, work) or even route them to voicemail automatically
  • I can send callers to an out of service message
  • I can create custom greetings
  • I can dial out as that number
  • I can listen in as they leave a voicemail and then pick up the call in the middle
  • I can transfer calls between phones I have in my settings (cell, home, work, whatever)
  • and more..  just see the site for a long list

The problem is that it is hard to get a number and account from them right now.  We were lucky to get in when they were not Google and get a number that we use constantly for not only privacy but ease of finding us at any number when we want.

Private Number (from FreeConferenceCall)

A new offering, with a small monthly charge for you to get a phone number with unlimited voicemail capabilities.  They are targeting this at social network users directly to use as a front end to giving out your real phone number.  You can use the web and even get the information as podcasts and RSS feeds.  Quite a great tool for teenagers at a low cost to prtect their privacy.

For a longer list of these services use this Google search and take your pick.  Step up into better means to protect your privacy and your kids by teaching them how to use these tools.

Where Is Your Username Registered – reversed into a stalking tool

While we were recording Episode 9 of TheSocialGeeks podcast, one of the sites mentioned was UserNameCheck.com , a cool utility.  It basically runs through almost 70 social sites (last time I counted) and verifies if your desired username is available.  From there you could pick a new name that was open everywhere or go add yourself to services that you not discovered.

It suddenly struck me that most people are not trying to be a ‘brand’

a known name or identity across networks that is easily identified by some username

You can find me on all the networks under the same exact name.  But perhaps I was a naive person, or young adult and had someone following me online.  WIth this type of service they would easily find you across networks, or use it to glean more and more profile information on you.  With the combination of information numerous sites require, you are able to built an almost complete information profile about a person with not too much effort.  We need to push the sites to reduce some of the required information, besides getting smart about what we publish.