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The Porous Security of Twitter

For the location data alone even the most lowly tech snooper can quickly figure out your home and workplace via your Twitter account. Researchers at MIT and Oxford have displayed that the location stamps on just a few of posts, as few as 8 over the course of a single day can be enough to disclose the address of the poster’s home and workplace to relatively low-tech snoopers.

The tweets themselves may be in essence innocuous, such as links to cat videos, or comments on the news. The location information is thus coming from geographic coordinates and automatically associated with the tweets themselves and the people who wield them.

“many people have this idea that only machine learning techniques can discover interesting patterns in location data, and they feel secure that not everyone has the technical knowledge to do that. With this study what we wanted to show is that when you send location data as a secondary piece of information, it is extremely¬†simple for people with very little technical knowledge to find out where you work or live.” says Ilaria Liccardi who worked on the project.

This I’m sure is a very startling realization for most people who are new to these social media platforms or who avoid them entirely but any millennial could have told you the exact same conclusion and saved you a few thousand dollars in research. The reason is that there is simple a different relationship and expectation of privacy today. Moreover, with things such as your work place location this is something that most people freely display be it their Facebook, or Twitter. It is category right up there next to your name and college. More over even if you don’t provide the physical location of where you work you have done so under the assumption that if you put that you work for such and such a tech company and that you live in such and such a town you can find out where the location is with that information with a simple copy and paste.

This shouldn’t be a story considering how painfully obvious it is to realize that this information is accessible. Moreover, It isn’t really even that much of a loss of security when you think about it. What I mean by that is in the old days when you looked up someones name in a phone book, you got access to their personal home number, but more importantly you got their home address! Unless you are operating with a mountain man libertarian sense of delusion¬†in your isolation from society you kind of take it as a matter of fact that if someone wants to find you in the United States it isn’t hard. In fact its pretty damn easy.

This is just the way the world has gone and there seems to be no going back. Other than the fact that if you don’t want to play you don’t have to ! no one forces you to use these services and it should be assumed that you are opening yourself up when you do before hand.

Categories: Technology

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