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Where are you?: The Foursquare and geo-tagging debate.

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If you’re reading this, it’s probably a safe assumption to make that you own a mobile phone. A significant number of you, maybe even most of you, own a phone with internet capability. And you’ve probably used it at some point.

You may or may not have heard of this little thing called Forsquare, a geo-tagging social network that grew a modest 3400% LAST YEAR. And now boasts membership of more than six-million users worldwide. Even in the shining beacon of freedom, North Korea. Oh, and SPACE.

Opinions appear to be divided in all directions, as the service continues to grow in popularity. One irate blogger’s comments, admittedly captures my initial opinion accurately, asking “WHO THE %*$& CARES WHERE YOU ARE?” [Here]

My opinion first began to change, much in the same way I began to grow fond of Twitter. An article spoke of China’s Tian’anmen Paranoia Police blocking use of the service nation-wide, on the anniversary of the 1989 massacre. This was due to a substantial number of users “checking-in” at Tian’anmen Square, and leaving messages that left the Chinese government a little red in the face. This may signal the beginnings of future activist and humanitarian uses for the service, which may well have already begun to happen, considering the tumultuous state of the world at the moment.

Of course, there’s the downside. Foursquare gives users the option to share their check-ins via other social networks, and for anyone with a substantial Twitter following, this means telling people you don’t know, where you are, or, when you aren’t home.

"France" hey? Plenty of time to steal myself a speaker!

Thus, the site PleaseRobMe was born. It aggregates public tweets posted from services such as Foursqaure, in aid of  “[raising] some awareness on this issue and have people think about how they use services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz, etc.” says the site, in a rationale regarding itself, quoted from here. The only real-life manifestations of this danger I could find reference to, was a story of a woman who got called by a stalker at a restaurant and invited on a bike ride, and another woman whose house was burgled in the 10 minutes she was out shopping. Both checked-in away from home, on Foursquare.

But, as always in life, especially digital life, common sense will do you ceaseless good. And at least one other blogger agrees with me there.


Written by Clancy Noakes

March 27, 2011 at 1:28 am