TMI: Find Someone Sharing Information

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Are we sharing too much information on Twitter and Facebook? We're exploring the benefits and the downsides of sharing our personal lives making our private lives public. Help us in an experiment!

Seek out a stranger that you see sharing information on the internet — on Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare — anyone who catches your interest. Don't go stalking though, just reach out and ask them one question for us: What benefit does he or she get from sharing personal information publicly? Tell us what happens and we'll talk about it on the air.

Takeaway digital editor Jim Colgan explains what we're up to and what happened when he used Twitter and FourSquare to track someone down in a park in Manhattan.

Here are some ways to do this:

  • Search Twitter and select "Near this place" in the advanced option (you can see this here)
  • If you have a smartphone, you can use location-based apps like FourSquare to see who has checked in to a location near you (this is what Jim did). You can usually click on the profiles of people who checked in and find their Twitter or Facebook profile.

Listen to what Twitter (and FourSquare) user Dave T. told us when we tracked him down:


Jim Colgan

Comments [5]

LisaMarie Dias

Heard your discussion today re: facebook and sharing but was driving so I didn't call in.

I understand the value of a public stream of comments - I find searching the Twitter stream invaluable. But I think that FB is different and conversations should be private if we choose them to be.

I think that Facebook could have a hashtag system set up so that posts with a #FBpub or #pub after it can go into the public stream and all others, by default, are only seen as per the users privacy settings.

This would allow for a vibrant public stream, if users will allow it, and will also keep FB as a place for 'friends' to converse without others listening in.

May. 28 2010 02:29 PM

"Hi, I don't know you, but I spent a bunch of time tracking you down online to find out your exact location and then either came to your house and knocked on your door, or haunted the places I think you might show up, so I can try to recognize you from your photo and approach you. Some radio show told me I should do that. But all I want to do is ask you one question. Really!" Yeah, I hope most people don't see that as stalking, but I'm not so sure they won't...

May. 20 2010 11:11 AM
celine from Maryland

It's gotten even easier.... see

May. 20 2010 10:21 AM
Sydney Ashcraft from Troy, Mi

Most of my information on Facebook is open to the public. Why? So that if potential employers google me, they'll find my carefully controlled and deliberately bland FB... and not my LiveJournal where I can blog my real opinions on controversial topics without having to worry about filtering for an audience. Most of what Facebook makes public is a matter of public record anyway, and the value of having an online presence under my real name outweighs the downside.

May. 20 2010 08:38 AM
Edna from New Jersey

This experiment is hopefully a great expose of these potentially dangerous social networking sites. I don't worry about the grown man at the dog run; I fear for the 13 year old girl at the mall who can be identified and found by any stranger or pedophile with twitter or facebook.

May. 19 2010 11:04 AM

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