Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Out in the open!

Active twitter users in this part of the world would recall an incident that happened about two months ago. A huge twitter wave rose in favour of a Mumbai-based woman whose desparate tweet (observed five days after she posted it) sparked the fear that something bad may have befallen her or her family. Indian Twitterers used every tool in their power to get more information about her, resulting in one of them arriving at her doorstep in a few hours, along with the police (and perhaps the media). She was safe, and the story about the origin of the tweet turned out to be too personal to be discussed in public.

It was not tough to locate her. Her Twitter was linked to her blog. On searching her name, Google helpfully brought up her Facebook account, among several others with the same name. But it was easy enough to figure out which was she. Her complete postal address was available. Her previous tweets revealed the name of her lawyer. In short, a lot of information on her was splashed on the Internet, most of it by herself. Her name and address were posted over and over on Twitter by new people joining the tide of concerned well-wishers. Some of them removed the tweets afterwards, some didn't. A few days after the incident, her Twitter account was deleted.

In this particular case (even though it is debatable), the information was used for a cause that everyone believed to be noble. But isn't it as easy for someone with criminal intentions to gather our information, to locate us and arrive at our doorstep? With the boom of social networks, everyone leaves information about themselves lying around. If you want to know where someone is at the moment, check their Twitter Timeline. The chances are high that they are 'the mayors of a certain location on foursquare' or 'at the airport' or 'at the cinema' or 'doing shopping with XYZ at the Mall' at the moment. If you want to know their past, check their Facebook 'Info' and the entire history is spilled out for all to see.

Sounds far-fetched and paranoid? Have you checked how much of your details (past, present and future) are easily accessible to the public?

1 comment:

  1. One has to tread with caution when posting information on the internet. One should avoid posting information such as postal address and phone numbers on websites. I believe its always better to be safe than sorry