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PleaseRobMe provides a lesson for us all

The latest scandal site to hit the web is PleaseRobMe – a website that broadcasts when people are away from their homes. Yes, if you read that last sentence in a Daily Mail voice you will be outraged, but delve into the story a little more and you will smile knowingly.

The website was the idea of Dutchman Boy Van Amstel and a friend, who thought it would be a good idea to wake people up to just how much private security they give up online. They noticed how many people were auto-posting to Twitter while they were playing location-based game Foursquare (which maps where you are).

People didn’t seem to realise that they were broadcasting where they live and when they were away from home, so the two cheeky Dutchmen set about writing a simple script that took four hours, and PleaseRobMe was born.

Don’t get excited, because it crashed very quickly. Whether it is live when you read this is just a question of luck, I guess, but it’s worthwhile discussing it because the ethos behind the site is sound.

How many people are posting openly about their lives on Twitter, Facebook and other sites without a thought for how easy it might be for someone, anyone, to just track them down and play havoc with their lives? You are on LinkedIn as an MD of a top company, you post on Facebook that you are going on holiday? No problem for the cyber criminal who could pay a couple of quid to Companies House to get your address from a list of company directors, you come home to a sorry state.

Being social could suddenly become no fun at all.

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