Although widely reported a few weeks ago, given my previous post, I think it is worth mentioning this site, pleaserobme.com. It is essentially a feed for Four Sqaure/Twitter, showing where people have left home. Naturally the UK right wing press were up in arms about this site calling it ‘irresponsible’. It isn’t irresponsible. It’s very responsible actually.
At the moment there are some radio ads in the UK encouraging people to be more secure at home. A couple are just checking arrangements before they go out, so make sure the back door is unlocked, the lap top is on show by the window and so on. Clearly, this ad is making a point. Do the Daily Mail think that is responsible, as it obviously ‘explains’ how to make your house attractive to robbers?
When it comes to pleaserobme.com, the point they are making is that this information is completely open, and all they have done is aggregate some of this information. Any self respecting robber (assuming that there such a thing as a ‘self respecting’ one), could do exactly the same. You may be thinking ‘but robbers are too stupid or lazy to do that’. Well you have to look at the effort put into phishing attacks, spam emails and stolen credit card information sales to see that when it comes to the world of the internet, the persistence and ingenuity of thieves is almost limitless.
pleaserobme.com any more doesn’t actually give out people’s home addresses. What it does is clearly shows easy it is, with mobile social networking, for people to become complacent about the information they give out.
A recent report form Comscore has shown a massive rise in mobile access to social networks, with over 30% of smartphone users accessing them. Hmm.
In spite of my dire predictions for location-based social media, it seem that for some people, at least there is a place for it. Google managed to annoy a lot of people with Latitude, yet they have included an element of this into Google Buzz (I still don’t really understand what Google Buzz is, but there it is, sitting in my Google account and I have to ‘friends’ and no idea who they are). One friend of mine gave a good example of where Latitude works well. He works in London, and lives in Cambridge. As do a number of his friends. They all use Latitude to see who has arrived at the station. If there are any friends nearby then they go for a drink. Fair enough. It probably wouldn’t work in London because the place is just so disparate.
The most recent one to catch my attention is FourSquare (what? you hadn’t heard of it before? well no, but I can’t know everything). Another friend is using it quite happily. And he as some ‘friends’, basically people he has never met, knowing where he is. And the point of this is what, exactly? It also has a Twitter element, with live micro blogging. I just looked at the most recent post. Someone talking about the chicken casserole. Wow, cutting edge stuff.
The cynics amongst us (yup that’s me), makes me think that this is little more than a licence for burglary and stalking. There’s a good blog on it here. But am I being paranoid? I would say no, not at all. I would say that everyone using these location-based social media systems are not paranoid enough. The amount of information we give out through social media is frightening. Worse still, people are looking for you. Checking my own site’s analytics I can see that my name is one of the top search terms! It is also important to remember that the internet does not forget. What you post is always there. For ever. It may not be important to you at this stage, but as some point in your life a disparaging comment about a corporate, or a drunken photo of you in drag will come back to haunt you.
It’s the same with location services. It may seem innocuous for now, but as we get wiser to things like phising attacks, I can see the next development being location phising (‘Hi, I’m a very pretty girl, you’re near me, why don’t we meet for a drink?’), using the information to rob your house. It has been pointed out that for many people the most valuable items are the things you carry around with you – smartphones, laptops and credit cards. But that’s also fine if you are a thief, location services will tell them exactly where you and your iphone are!
A new report from CSS Insight shows that 60% of Europeans do not use their mobile operator portal. I have been harping on about this for some time. For many brands the operator portal is THE place to be, but for most users, it isn’t. The fixed internet experience is one of going where you want, whenever you want. On the mobile internet the same thing is happending, and social networking is the first (and only) port of call for the majority of users.
The has significant implications for mobile marketing and advertising. Where do you go to engage with your mobile audience? The answer seems to be Facebook!
I mentioned content aggregation a few weeks ago and it looks as though things are moving forwards with the introduction of two new services: Vodafone 360 and Motoblur from Motorola.
One of the problems we all face is too much information, and that is particularly an issue with the limited screen size of mobile. Simply put, it’s a pain to see if you have any new facebook message, to jumping to Twitter, or changing your Bebo status. Not to mention receiving texts or SMS from the same friends. The concept behind content or social networking aggregation is that the information is kept in one app in simple, small chunks of information.
Given the amount of information we receive, and the fact that it is increasingly mobile, the potential for content aggregation is very significant. Look out for a plethora of content aggregation services and apps in the next few months!