Facebook has added a slightly useful (and potentially dangerous) feature to their services: location tracking. Basically, you use your mobile phone to check in wherever you go and it posts your location to your Facebook wall. This is kind of cool, but could also be a danger, especially to younger teens and preteens. Websites like FourSquare have already been using this system, but in Facebook’s case the argument is more serious. According to Facebook’s official statistics there are now over five hundred million regular users of the social-networking giant’s website. Of course, many of these are teenagers and pre-teens, and that is where the pitfall lies. There are three strong reasons that stand out and support that location tracking could be dangerous.
1. Robberies. Quite often people don’t have their privacy settings secured to the point where no one except for their friends can see their profiles and information. In fact, many people don’t even pay attention to the security settings. This is especially true for teenagers. However, this makes it so anyone could find your account and view your wall. If you just posted something saying that you were at a restaurant and wouldn’t be back for three hours, this would potentially allow the thief to find your house (especially if your address is displayed on your profile), break in and steal valuables. Even your friends could do this if they wanted to, especially since they probably know where you live. Posting information about your location and the general location of your family with insufficient privacy is just asking for something bad to happen.
2. Stalking. This goes along with the lack of privacy on a person’s Facebook account. Some creepy, messed up person could view someone’s wall and find out where they were going and show up at the same place at the same time. To the contrary, someone unwelcome (such as somebody who is greatly disliked, irritating, or downright mean) could show up out of the blue. This can be potentially dangerous and lead to the next thing.
3. Kidnappings. If a pre-teen or teenager announces where they’re going and anyone can see it, or even if they say something along the lines of “Hah, parents aren’t home.” then a potential kidnapper could show up and abduct them. This is a worst case scenario, but keep in mind that this is entirely possible. A kidnapping is the last thing that anyone wants on their hands, and no one knows what a kidnapper will do as they tend to be extremely sporadic.
The lesson in this is to always have appropriate internet safety. Make sure that your privacy settings (as well as your kids’ privacy settings) are set to “friends only” or “friends of friends only.” I can’t tell how many times I’ve looked at someone’s page and found their wall sitting out in the open for anyone to read. The safer and more secure you are on the internet, the less chance there is that something bad will result from direct use of it. Remember, always be safe and use common sense while on the internet.