Location-based check-ins can be fun and engaging, but they are also dangerous. In the past, we have blogged about how and why plotting your whereabouts on a social network doesn’t just mean a loss of privacy, but can also endanger your well being.
Making it even more risky is Raytheon’s Riot, a data-mining software that can track people on social media. Every time you check-in somewhere, post a tweet about where you are going or upload a photo of where you are, you’re creating a footprint of your everyday life. Eventually patterns begin to form and this is where Riot comes in to play.
And trust us: it is scary.
The software can gather copious amounts of information about users from social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla, Foursquare and more. Riot (or Rapid Information Overlay Technology) can grant access to an full picture of a person’s life and the places they have visited.
In a sample video featured on the Guardian, we watch as Riot tracks Nick, a Raytheon employee. We learn that Nick’s pattern is go to the gym at 6 AM on a weekday and that he frequently visits the Washington DC area where he takes photos with a blonde haired female. Digging deeper, someone using Riot can begin to predict where Nick will be on certain days and times and with whom.
The software also displays the associations between individuals online by looking at who they have communicated with on Twitter. Additionally it mines GPS logs to determine the top 10 places visited by tracked individuals and the times at which they visited them.
Many civil rights groups are up in arms about Riot, including the ACLU. What do you think?