Twitter knows where you live

Posted: February 6, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Here’s a cool/creepy thing to keep in mind … when you post to social media or take photos with your phone, it is entirely possible that your laptop or mobile device is also adding location data to your work. This could be a very useful feature if where you are adds context to your posting, such as where you were when you took that awesome shot of the sunset over the ocean (which ocean?  which beach? what season?) or if  you just tweeted about a great slice of pizza others may want to know where so they can get one too.

On the other hand, if you weren’t aware that this information was being captured and made available for all to see, you might not think it was such a great idea. For instance, you could be passing time in a doctor’s waiting room tweeting about last night’s game and not realize that you’ve just told the world that you have a medical problem of a somewhat sensitive nature.

For a real world example of this, I used a tool at http://teachingprivacy.icsi.berkeley.edu:8080/#project to view the comings and goings of one of the giants of the IT world. I’ve redacting his actual Twitter handle out of respect for his privacy but what I found was publicly available information that anyone could easily obtain. The screenshots below reveal what I found with just a few clicks …

TwitterTrack1

 

As you can see our subject is quite the world traveler but he spends most of his time on the West Coast.

 

 

 

 

 

TwitterTrack2

 

 

Zooming in on the red “hot spot” from the previous image shows that he is probably based in Silicon Valley.

 

 

 

 

TwitterTrack3

 

 

Zooming in further still shows a Google map with one of the tweets coming from a urologist’s office.

 

 

 

 

Maybe he was just there to work on their computers but, still, it’s probably not what he had in mind to blast out to the Twitterverse when he wrote that tweet.

A similar bit of stalker magic is available from WeKnowYourHouse.com which correlates tweets using the words “home,” “house,” etc. with the geolocation from Twitter to assert, with reasonable confidence that you live at the following address …

WeKnowYourHouse

Pretty creepy, huh? Consider yourself forewarned and double-check those settings to make sure that you aren’t guilt of revealing TMI…

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