An Emerging Economy Of Peeping Tom’s

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January 24th, 2011 Priyanka Joshi

The other day, I was at Taj (Bandra) attending a summit and tweeted about the session to my Twitter timeline (in simple words, it went to everyone who reads my updates on the micro-blogging site) and geo-tagged my location (with the in-built GPS function in my iPhone, I can add my location to every tweet/image/Facebook post). By the end of the summit, I got a tweet from 2 followers that they were in the same vicinity (in effect, complete strangers, who subscribed to my Twitter feeds and known to me just digitally). They had seen my location on their handsets! While in theory, I knew this happens but when it actually happened – tracing someone through geo-taging via a tweet — I have to admit it was a bit alarming to introduce myself to two strangers (who by the way turned out to be speakers from the summit I was attending).

And then some more startling conversation followed. One of the strangers, let’s call him Mr A, asked me about MY trip on a yacht that I had tweeted about, asked me questions on my recent experience as a panel moderator that I had shared on Facebook, and also discussed my story that I had shared on LinkedIn. He knew and remembered my digital updates. The second person, Mr B too enquired about a recent trip that I had shared on Twitter and pointed out what I should have included in my itinerary.

If you’ve been spending the past year or longer on the most popular social networking sites – Twitter and Facebook – then probably the above incidents have occurred in your life too. People like me log on every day, obsessively share updates on Facebook profiles and make it a point to check the status updates, tweets and what their online friends have been upto. In many ways, this is like reversing the peepholes on our apartment doors and inviting the world to see us in our natural habitat.

And I am not alone. Facebook is the 3rd most visited website in India, representing 5.26 per cent of all Indian Internet visits (according to Experian metrics). With search engines, social networks and email services clocking top ranks on the internet, it’s safe to conclude that most internet-savvy Indians spend a good amount of time reading up on what their friends are chatting, tweeting, scribbling, uploading, viewing and recommending on the web.Social networks have evolved is a classic example of how voyeuristic we have become (and there’s scope for more with 3G with people expected to start sharing videos etc on handsets).

Our every move, latest connections and most current whereabouts are up for everyone to see. And if you ever convince yourself that people aren’t paying attention to you simply because you don’t see a comment on your updates or photos of that party you attended, then please don’t fool yourself. When you comment on someone else’s photo or update, sites generate an email to let everyone else in your network know what you just scribbled. You “poke” a friend, take a quiz or survey and compare the results with your friends or upload a photo of your new car and wait for your friends to compliment you on your choice. You reach out to the site and it reaches out to you — keeping you glued.

The question I ask myself — can I stop social networking today? The answer stares right back at me.

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16 Responses to “An Emerging Economy Of Peeping Tom’s”

  1. msri Says:

    What a stupid blog. If you dont want others to know your whereabouts, why share it in the first place? Guess you only just realised the pitfalls?
    By the way, for people who really have a lot of actual work to do on their hands, there is no time to spend checking other people’s updates and silly ramblings all day.

  2. Yogi Says:

    @Abhinav, This is not the way of writing comments. I think you should be more decent while writing comments on any website. You are talking like as if you yourself are a perfectionist and doesn’t do any mistake at your work. I am not sure if she is a writer or reporter or holds any other profile with Business Standard, But you don’t have a right to just say whatever you want on a public platform like this. You also should be more careful while using your words (like - have not studied English language beyond class X) in public, and moreover you should respect other’s views. “Freedom of expression” doesn’t give us freedom to make others feel low. Hope you understand what I am trying to say.

  3. Sahil Says:

    I totally DISAGREE with you. Facebook and almost all the other social networking sites have privacy options which can be used to avoid ‘unwanted’ people from checking your updates. Plus if you are making announcements about your whereabouts and your trips on a blog or a social networking site, people are bound to notice it. Instead of calling them ‘voyeuristic’ and ‘Peeping Toms’ (Which in your dictionary means a person who sees photos put up by you on a PUBLIC website), I guess it is you who should keep a tab on your privacy.
    Reading your article, I understand that you are a Gadget Freak. However, all I can infer is that not all gadget freaks are techno savvy. A lot of them are just show offs not knowing how to use it. Technology in the wrong hands is quite dangerous, just like giving a revolver to a monkey.

  4. Abhinav Says:

    What a silly blog. How does the headline connect in any way to the message of the blog? What a misuse of the words?

    You are at a ’summit’ and tweeting instead of paying attention at the summit. You must be finding it boring.
    Then you get ‘tweeted back’ by speaker. They also found the ’summit’ boring.
    Or all the above suffer from short attention span.

    In the end, all this ‘gadget freak’ tells the reader is that your post are sent by email to others who are in your network. Which reader here would not know that?
    When you say seeing people updates that they display makes other ‘voyeuristic’, you provide proof that you have not studied English language beyond class X.

    With ‘gadget freaks’ like these in BS, no wonder the comment section works so poorly.
    Summit hoping freaks are passing here as writers.

  5. Yogi Says:

    This is good to see that technology is advancing, but sometimes I fear where would it lead us? These days most of people spend more time on these social networking sites than their actual social network(Spouse/Friends/Relatives). With the increase of Technology/Gadgets, online social networking and computer games, aren’t we loosing on things which are more precious and should seek more attention? I think this is the time we should think, check ourselves and find out what is more important.

  6. Priyanka Says:

    Christy: I agree! It should be.

    @All: Social Networking is really a personal choice - how, what and when to network is users choice. I have not quit Social networking, i cant really but I have become more careful with geotagging at least

  7. Amritha Says:

    So have u quit Social networking?

  8. Prashant Rohilla Says:

    Priyanka, When i was in school , I once read a line in my 4th standard history book and it was like “Human Beings are Social Animals” , and Social Networking websites today are just the structure Modeled on this One Fact, I think we should never feel guilty of what we do at this websites, It’s just a part of us, But yes the information people share and conceive on such platforms is a individual choice!

  9. santosh Says:

    I am surprised why it took so much time to realize the issue. Your account is not hacked to know what you been doing. Its you screeming outloud on whatz you are up to!! and cool things you been doing and want to claim number of followers you have! You are the one who posted your Yatch or whatever story on public domain. Its not peeping tom peeking in the room but its changing dress on a road.

    I ask again and again to the FB freaks..what is the purpose on doing this..unless I want to show my following. Else I have many better ways to share my personal updates to share with my inner circle. I don’t need to write it on a common wall. So there is no point in blogging such senseless crap. I am sure this will not be posted, but hope its helps to improve the next scribbles to be more thought provocating.

  10. Sankar Datti Says:

    That’s absolutely right

  11. Harish Says:

    the key lesson to be learnt here is not to install a peeping hole in our privy zones (bedroom/toilette/bathrooms!!). Its not like people are just hacking into our facebook accounts & stealing the pic of the new car i brought last week, its what we share. so unless we screen the content what we put online we may be solely responsible for the probable (read adverse!) implications arising of the same.

  12. Christy Says:

    Maybe it shud be called the Joint (Online) Family system !!

  13. Asif Says:

    yes, it’s totally up to you what you want to do with the tool.
    A knife is for cutting vegetable but it can be used to kill somebody.

  14. Rohan Aurora Says:

    Nice share. Although, Twitter and Facebook are the bandwagons these days in social media, questions have been put up regarding their privacy. But their usage as an information center and marketing tool is phenomenal and indispensable for future. I appreciate and exploit this feature mostly. Foursquare is another example, this rapidly grew (3400% last year). I have heard many case of robberies and weird fiasco taking place because of these social media. Location-based services pose a massive security risk, they actually have far bigger privacy implications, and it’s good that you pointed it out to us who perhaps haven’t thought twice about sharing their Foursquare info on Twitter and Facebook, too.

    Regards,
    Rohan Aurora

  15. nona j Says:

    well, no one can get over social networking once hooked. i am tuned in from my blackberry 24X7 to twitter and FB. not so much linkedin but yes, keeping in touch with frnds and being like a fly on the wall is one of th many kicks we get from social snooping. its healthy as long s we are not spamming any one

  16. mekin Says:

    i agree 100 per cent

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