New software can give people you wouldn't necessarily call friends a detailed map of your daily routine. The program can follow your every move, from home to work, and your favorite stores and restaurants. And you could be making it very easy with a single post to social media.
Kevin Dean uses his smart phone to check in to his job at the Mid-South Literacy Council, and just about everywhere else he goes.
"It's just become part of my routine," he said. "I don't even think about doing it. I just check in everywhere, and I don't even know why I do it at this point."
Dean doesn't worry about his friends knowing his whereabouts – he's the one who checked in, after all. But a free online software tool called ‘Creepy' gives him the creeps!
"I don't think anyone is going to stalk me," he said. "I'm not that interesting. But you know, there are people out there that could take advantage of this system and really hurt somebody."
Creepy compiles data from users who post on Twitter and Flicker – programs that do not require check-ins, and anyone can follow. By simply inputting Dean's username, Creepy's geolocater maps out where he has been.
"That's my old house, right there," Dean said, while looking at a map generated by the program. "I don't even remember checking in there. I guess it automatically checked me in."
Creepy also tagged Dean after a Tweeted in a drive through.
"I stopped at McDonald's for a Coke," he said.
Not only can Creepy pinpoint your Tweets. Geotagging provides the exact location where your Flickr pictures were taken.
"It does work," Dean said. "That's scary."
Even with high privacy settings on your Twitter account, unless you disable your phone's geotagging abilities, Creepy can follow you anywhere.
"My account is locked, so you can see that even though my account is locked, and you can't see anything about my Tweets, but you can apparently see where I am, so that's kind of creepy," Dean said.
On his web site, Creepy's creator says, "The intention behind Creepy was not to help stalkers. It was to show how easy it is to aggregate geolocation and make you think twice the next time you opt-in for geolocation features."
And because this kind of data mining remains largely unregulated, it's critical that you be mindful of your every post.
You can protect yourself by shutting off geotagging features on your phone. We've posted step-by-step instructions here.
Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.
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