We all have at least one friend who subscribes to the incessant and inane school of Twitter and Facebook use – but should people be punished for rampant social media activity? Sure, daily meal updates warrant a Se7en-style revenge of merciless force-feeding but as far as we’re concerned, the pitfalls of social media – spam, public shame and productivity loss – are fairly innocuous when compared to the benefits.
That’s where three developers from the Netherlands and their recently launched website Please Rob Me come in. At first glance it appears thief friendly, or thief-adjacent at least. But look closer and the site is a warning. It’s simple. The crazy Dutchmen maintain that while Foursquare’s geo-tagging capabilities are useful for telling people about the uber-cool cafes, galleries, bars, boutiques and record stores you frequent it’s even more adept at telling people when you’re not home. In other words, while you’re jostling for the Mayor-ship of “Location X” (probably a real place on Foursquare. I’m thinking self-important LA boutique or Hardcore Record Store in Tokyo) thieves know you’re twenty kilometres away from home and can thus steal your fixie, MacBook and rare collection of Bear Bricks like it’s Christmas day.
The site explains: The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home. It gets even worse if you have “friends” who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That’s right, slap them across the face.
Which brings us to point two. Don’t let people colonize your crib on Foursquare. This divulges your exact address to anyone with a Foursquare account so that in the future – when you’re Tweeting about going to town on Mojitos in Cuba, thieves will be going to town on the family heirloom prominently displayed in your living room. If a friend asks “Can I add your house as a Foursquare location?” don’t take it as a compliment on how fucking fun your four walls are. What they’re really saying is: “Can I make it ridiculously easy for thieves to steal all your worldly possessions?” You should burn their house as a preemptive strike and, as the Please Rob Me founders suggest, bitchslap them in the face for being so careless.
If this sounds like social media paranoia, let me tell you, this shit is for real. Paris Hilton knows what I’m talking about. Late last year a group of LA thieves dubbed The Bling Ring ransacked a slew of celebrity homes by using out of town Twitter updates as signifiers to strike. When it comes to social media it’s like rock climbing and blind dates – safety first. Now how do I become the Mayor of the Pedestrian offices?