“Please rob me” – February 24, 2010

Are you inviting someone to burgle your home?

The website Please Rob Me has a straightforward message: Your next instant update on Gowalla, Tweet on Twitter or “I’m at …” status update on Facebook is a broadcast alert to the whole world that you are not at home. And that could make your house a target for burglary.

PleaseRobMe.com screenshot

Of course, most people do not share information online about their street address or whether they live alone. But it can be straightforward to piece together enough information by using the surname and city from an online profile and then accessing the local white pages directory.

Whether you share information online and the specific details that you share, are up to you. Sites like Please Rob Me are a good reminder about the implications of sharing tidbits of information that seem innocuous on their own but can can reveal quite specific information when taken together.

Forbes magazine’s Velocity blog, CNET’s The Social and the Canadian privacy commissioner have each profiled PleaseRobMe.com.

(In legal terms, “robbery” is the act taking of the property of someone from their person or in their immediate presence, against their will, by the use of violence or intimidation. “Burglary” is the act of breaking into and entering a house or building with intent to steal. But I suppose that “Please Burgle Me” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.)