Heat Map Generated From Social Media Posts Warns Teenagers Of Over-Sharing

Heat Map Generated From Social Media Posts Warns Teenagers Of Over-Sharing

Since geolocated posts could put you at risk of burglary and theft, new graphic keeps people aware of their usage.

Ross Brooks
  • 4 september 2013

Even though sharing information via social media in nearly every aspect of daily life – there could be a point at which sharing becomes dangerous. Researchers at the International Computer Science Institute and UC Berkeley have come up with an idea to warn users when they are sharing too much information via social networks.


The data that goes along with a tweet, a Facebook share, a post on Instagram, or any other form of social sharing can often be used by thieves to gain valuable information about someones daily movements, or the layout of their homes.

Gerald Friedland, director of audio and multimedia research at ICSI, told Fast Company:

Time, plus geolocation, can uniquely identify you. If you do it over a long period of time, everybody can see your habits, and you can be completely cased out.


Earlier this year, the two institutions even discovered a complicated network of vendors selling compromised Twitter accounts, as well as email and hijacked IP addresses used for activation purposes.

Backed by a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the researchers built a privacy app called Ready or Not that shows a heat map of 30 days’ worth of geographic coordinates taken from a user’s Twitter or Instagram account. These two services were chosen because they are the most frequently used by high school students – the subject of the team’s studies.

One example shows how easy it is to find out where Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak lives.

Alongside Ready or Not, there is also an educational component, a website that lists 10 principles for social media privacy. Some of which include:


“There is no anonymity on the Internet,” and “The Internet not only duplicates, it never forgets!”

Not intended to create fear amongst social media users, but rather allow them to make an informed choice when it comes to their privacy. This applies to both high school students, and their parents who would inevitably become targets of any misgivings that come from the information posted on social networks.

Ready or Not

+high school students
+identity theft
+Market Research
+Social Media

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