Unless you are careful, it is really easy for the lowest of tech-savvy people to find out where you live and work just by looking at your Twitter page.
Researchers at MIT and Oxford University have shown that the location stamps on just a handful of Twitter posts, as few as eight over the course of a single day, can be enough to disclose the addresses of the poster’s home and workplace to a relatively low-tech snooper.
The tweets themselves might be otherwise innocuous, links to funny videos, say, or comments on the news. The location information comes from geographic coordinates automatically associated with the tweets.
Twitter’s location-reporting service is off by default, but many Twitter users choose to activate it. The new study is part of a more general project at MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative to help raise awareness about just how much privacy people may be giving up when they use social media.
First author Ilaria Liccardi said that with this study, they wanted to show that when you send location data as a secondary piece of information, it is extremely simple for people with very little technical knowledge to find out where you work or live.
The research has been presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.