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How to Say 'Please Rob Me' on Twitter

Most homeowners are familiar with the practice of putting certain lights in their home on a timer. The idea is that when they are on vacation or out of town, the lights will go on and off per the timer, hopefully giving any would-be robbers the impression that the house is still occupied rather than temporarily vacant.

That makes sense. But would you ever do the opposite? Would you intentionally send a message out to the burglars of the world that you are not home and, further, tell them exactly where you were and when (i.e., "Attention criminal underworld: I'm at the beach right now, 1,000 miles from my house.")?

Plsrobmeimage You may not think you would do such a thing, but a new Web site that became a hot topic in the blogosphere yesterday has set out to demonstrate that hundreds of thousands of people are doing this everyday. As discussed in this post on TechCrunch, the provocatively named "Please Rob Me" has launched with the mission of raising awareness of a possible downside of using the new geolocation services such as Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz, etc. Those of you on Twitter have no doubt seen people using these services to announce things like, "I'm at the Grand Canyon" or "I'm the new mayor of the Reston Sport and Health Club."

Please Rob Me highlights the flip-side of these services: If you are at the Grand Canyon then you aren't at home. Its homepage states the site is "Listing all those empty homes out there," and features a real-time feed of "opportunities" (for robbers) in the form of people who have announced their locations through one of the geolocation services. See a screenshot below:


In a section of the Please Rob Me site called "Why," PRM explains that the site was launched to highlight the danger of "publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you're definitely not... home."

So the next time you feel compelled to tweet that you are at the top of Mount Rainier, remember that, as
Please Rob Me reminds us, you are also telling the world where you are not.

Posted by Bruce Carton on February 18, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)


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