If you didn’t have motivation before to enforce strict privacy settings on your or your child’s social networking profiles, here’s a pretty convincing reason to do so. A new desktop app called “Creepy” asks for the Twitter or Flickr username of any given person then downloads every photo ever tweeted or uploaded to determine that user’s location history. Created by Yiannis Kakavas, the app pulls location tags from photos and other data to produce a map similar to the one shown below that highlights locations and shows patterns of where someone lives, works, or spends other significant amounts of time.
In an interview with thinq_, Kakavas explains that the purpose of Creepy is twofold. First, he is intentionally trying to scare people with the accuracy and insight of this app. He wants “to try and raise awareness about privacy in social networking platforms,” as well as emphasize how simple it is to access personal information from the seemingly small amount of data people post online. He also wanted to create Creepy to better assist social engineers with gathering information, as they can learn important security and location-based information from the app.
While Creepy may eventually be of assistance in some ways, it’s definitely an app that parents need to be aware of. Like any information posted online, the more photos someone shares, specifically through Twitter or Flickr, the more exposed their lives become. This can have especially serious repercussions for kids, such as causing damage to their online reputation or attracting unwanted attention from online predators or other dangerous people they shouldn’t be associated with. The best way to defend against the privacy intrusion of this app is to make sure your kids are only friends online with people they know offline, and that they enforce the strictest and most secure privacy settings possible. Disabling geotagging options on Twitter and Facebook profiles can help solve this problem, especially if kids are spending a lot of time online through their smartphones.
What are your thoughts about Creepy? Are cyberstalking or contact with online predators made easier with these kinds of applications?