August 23, 2011
Giving Up More Than You Realize with Twitter
—Location leaking with social media applications.
It took my discovering an iPhone application called Glympse
to help me understand what bothered me about using Twitter
. That might sound a little strange but it turned out that what I thought was a problem with Twitter
was really a problem with privacy.
The epiphany provided by Glympse
led me to the realization that I was thinking about Twitter
as if it were just another blogging platform. To think of a Tweet as a 140 character blog entry is to miss the whole point of Twitter and the privacy implications associated with its use.Glympse
provides a way share your location using a text message. It creates a text message that contains a URL. Recipients of your message can view the URL using Glypmse
or a web browser. The URL provides time-limited location based information on your whereabouts. For example, you can send a Glympse
to someone when you leave the office and they can track your progress home.
The key difference between a Tweet and a Glympse
is that the Glympse
is short lived and distributed to only those who receive your text message. A Tweet offers no privacy.
It is the real time and public nature of Twitter and the ease with which you can provide updates that create the potential for leaking location information. A location leak can be explicit or implicit. An explicit location leak might include Geo Tagging a Tweet or you might mention a location explicitly. An implicit location leak might be something as simple as a Tweet that says you are not home.
To see the implications of leaking location information in real time check out http://pleaserobme.com