Site asks social networkers to rethink revelations


“I think the power of wanting to share where you’re at and what you’re experiencing at the time is going to trump most people’s wariness,” he said.

Please Rob Me updates on a recent Friday afternoon included a woman who updated her Foursquare account with a message about seeing the movie, “Shutter Island,” in Columbia, Md., with a friend. Minutes earlier, a Foursquare member from Wyoming, Mich., said he was leaving to get a haircut at Scott’s Barber & Beauty.

Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley said he can imagine that sharing where you are could have bad consequences. But he said it hasn’t come back to haunt him and isn’t something Foursquare has heard complaints about.

Please Rob Me founders posted a message on the site’s home page asking for organizations to partner with the service to help promote privacy issues and social networking.

“We … have been thinking about how we want to continue pleaserobme.com,” the message says. “It has received a lot of attention, and it’s time for a next step. We want to offer this web site to a professional foundation, agency, or company that focuses on raising awareness, helping people understand and provide answers to online privacy-related issues.”

There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that saying you’re not home on Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, or a similar site significantly increases your chance of becoming a burglary victim. FBI spokesman Jason Pack said that his organization’s cyber division wasn’t aware of any cases of home break-ins linked to people advertising their locations online.

After all, there are many ways, including low-tech ones, to determine that someone isn’t home. Pack said burglaries are usually crimes of opportunity — that is, they’re often not planned in detail.

Regardless, Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who focuses on privacy, said the message of Please Rob Me is still important.

“There is clearly a privacy issue here — one they are trying to shed light on,” he said.