About 9 months or so ago a weird thing happened to me. I had been using Twitter heavily and liked the idea behind 4Square. So I added the app to my BlackBerry and started checking in. Then as I prepared to meet a friend after work at his office I got a call from my then General Manger demanding to know where I was. Being after work I told him meeting a friend, but he persisted. So I told him. At that point he demanded to know why I was there and if I was on company business. This whole situation pissed me off but more to the point exposed that people are tracking us via our social media footprints with the right to do so being granted by our use of the systems. In this particular case it was me posting to 4Square, which injected a tweet into Twitter which was then re-posted into LinkedIn where my GM and I were linked and he was watching my activity.
Right then and there I pulled the 4square app off my phone and turned my Twitter geo-tagging to optional. My reason had nothing to do with being tracked by my management. All they have to do is ask and I tell. I don’t really care that some people have no real work to do, so they stalk employees via social media. As a matter of fact we should assume managers do this crap. The real reason was that I realized how easily I could expose information about clients
I often tweet about issues I am having in real time, either looking for help, as part of me processing the issue or just to contribute to the community. The idea of micro-blogging is an affective scratch pad for me. But in doing this and tying it to location services I am no longer sending random data. To the contrary I am posting NTP stamped data to what de-facto becomes a cloud log server. Tie that with location and you can now see I am at company X and you know by following me that I am a senior network consultant. Now tie that with an issue you may be having with company X and the comments I am posting about the issue I am working on. Now you have actionable data as an investor, client or competitor.
As a consultant this is not acceptable and thus most of my data I no longer geo-tag’d and why I will never again grace the cool virtual halls of products such as 4square. I would encourage any other my fellow IT geeks to consider the exposure you are creating for yourself and your company/clients. I love the innovation and cool social networking implications but we have to be cognizant that we are upholding our moral and contractual duties to those we work for to maintain the trust that is required for us to grow our experience, personal brands and our value in the market.
Great post. Good reminder to be more “careful” with social networks.
It is for this reason that I’ve only linked foursquare to my twitter feed when I’m at a networking event (CiscoLive). I have also removed pictures from my twitpic feed that could be misinterpreted for some of the same reasons you’ve mentioned. You never know, what you think is innocent use of social media could be viewed very differently by your company’s HR or management team.
Always think twice before you tweet, because the internet never forgets!