Why I Don't Accept FourSquare Requests From Strangers and Why I Would Deny A Facebook Request

When I first started to co-host the GigaOm Show maybe two years ago
(but now feels like an eternity ago), my female friends in tech
counseled me to remove all real-time location based information from
my online profiles. At the time, that only meant Dodgeball, but now it
means FourSquare, Twitter, Gowalla and any other assortment of
GPS-enabled data feeds in my life. Why did they tell me to do this?
Because whether we like it or not, and whether it is fair or not,
there are stalkers out there. And there are too few women in tech. And
when you put the two together, it means a lot of us girls in tech have
stalkers in tech.

Is it fair that I have to think twice about tweeting out that I am
getting a late night drink with a friend in a bar because of safety
concerns while my guy friends can leave a clear digital trail of their
every movement? No. But am I willing to risk my safety to protest or
challenge this system? No.

Now that I am starting to use things like FourSquare more, I am
noticing a lot of friend requests from people I do not know. And when
I get these requests, I just deny them. It is not that I have
something against you or that I am an elitist who only wants a certain
group of friends online. It is because I do not want to get jumped
by someone who I only know from a 60×60 pix icon when I am walking
home at night. Paranoid? Maybe. Safer? Yes.

Ladies – also – if your home is a venue on FourSquare or some other
location-based service, I recommend making it only an intersection and
not the full address. Venues are public on FourSquare, so unless you
want the whole world to know where you live, don’t list your full
address.

I know I am going to get slammed by women and men alike for this entire post.
Yet, as someone who has had a stalker before, I would rather be safe
than sorry at this point. And I’m sure there are other women out there
who have been in similar situations who will agree. As a loud and
confident woman, being stalked was one of the most unnerving and
frightening things that has ever happened to me. But I am not so
afraid that I am going to hide. I live on the internet and it is a
space where I am comfortable living. However, I will make some smarter
choices.

On a side note – re: Facebook requests. I do accept friend requests
from random people on Facebook. Why? Because Facebook allows me to
have very granular privacy controls over my data stream to each
person. And because there are still some awesome GigaOm Show fans that
add me on FB and I love them for being so supportive of the show that
Om & I did, albeit for a short run. (Thanks for the support!) But I will
deny certain people on Facebook all the time. Who? Guys who only have
a bunch of my Asian female friends as the only “mutual friends” in
common with me. Sorry, boys – I am not a collectible for your online
thumbnail shelf.

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