There’s recently been some discussion about whether posting your whereabouts on Twitter can lead to burglary in real life. My thoughts on this?
The answer is Maybe.
The Average Joe Twitter user is may have some differences from the guy in this story:
- They probably won’t be a public figure, as this guy seemed to be
- They might use a pseudonym or a handle rather than their real name
- They might protect their updates
If I think about my friends’ Twitter feeds, about half of them never mention their real name. These folks are at risk only from those who are allowed to know the person’s real name, and it’s likely that these people will be close friends. A lot of my friends are also not Tweeting for professional purposes, so their updates are locked from the general public, so the biggest concern there is who they accept as Followers.
So, what’s left? The biggest risk remains for people who have a lot of information out there. People who are “famous” in any sense of the word – that is, if lots of unknown people know who they are – have an increased risk. But this risk isn’t unique to Twitter. Any time someone has a lot of public exposure, they increase their risk. One would think “famous” people would have a good sense of this risk, but we’re confronted time and time again with celebrities who’ve been in compromising situations which become publicly known. Those pictures, that video, that cell-phone conversation, bared for all the world.
The big difference in the Internet Age is that the definition of “famous” has broadened considerably. With so many confessional avenues available like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, etc., we open ourselves up by participating. And if your content is good, with that comes popularity. And with popularity comes anonymous fans – risk is not far behind. We just need to be conscientious of this risk and protect ourselves as we feel appropriate. There are well-known bloggers who freely disclose their name, where they live, and the names of their family members. They know the risks and they accept the good and the bad of this.
In short, there are a couple of things to remember:
- Nothing on the Internet ever goes away entirely.
- Participating openly invites risks. Know your risk and weigh your decisions accordingly.