Foursquare Stalking: The dark side of geotagging

By now most of you will have heard of Foursquare, the location-based social networking site that you can use to tell people where you are right now using geotagging by marking the places you’re visiting in real-time. It’s become really popular in a short space of time and many people use it to catch up with friends, and keep tabs on what’s going on in their area.

However as well as the many positive aspects of a site such as this, an article over on The Daily Beast by Lisa Riordan Seville reminds us that there can be drawbacks to the site as well. For example have you ever thought that maybe the site and others like it, could be used by strangers to see what you’re doing, and even stalk you? This is exactly what happened to one woman well-versed in social networking and who is also a social media marketing strategist.

The article tells how Carri Bugbee “checked in” on foursquare to a local restaurant which posted her location to her feed, little suspecting what would happen next. While she looked at the menu with her friends a worker at the restaurant approached her table to tell her she had a telephone call on the business telephone.

Things took a sinister turn when the male voice on the phone wasn’t recognized by Bugbee and then he went on to say she shouldn’t use foursquare if she didn’t want people to know where she lived. She laughed off the comment at first saying she thought that would be difficult but the caller went on to call her a “stupid bitch”, followed by insults, at which point Bugbee hung up the phone. That would be enough to unsettle most of us.

Apparently a site called PleaseRobMe.com a website established to warn people of the dangers of geotagging, now shut down, had been used by the caller to track Bugbee. She was so worried she gave up using foursquare, and said she felt she’d been stalked. With Facebook also about to start its location-based feature imminently this is enough of a warning to people to think twice about the amount of information they give out on social networking sites.

For more on this go to thedailybeast.com. This tale may certainly be enough to give some of us a wake-up call as to the dark side of geotagging, but of course so many people use foursquare they’re unlikely to stop using it because of isolated incidents, until of course it affects them. What do you think of this warning? We’d be interested to hear your comments on this.