Use Twitter and Foursquare? Got a stalker?

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with your friends, but it’s also a great way for shady people to follow you. Marketplace Money has a great story on one particular encounter that happened between a blogger/Foursquare/tweeter and an apparent jokester or stalker (she still doesn’t know). Apparently after checking into a local restaurant, a fan of hers called the place, asked to speak with her and suggested they hang out at a later time. He knew how to direct the restaurant hostess to the blogger by descriptions from various profile pages.

How did this all happen? The blogger’s privacy settings were set such that anyone could see her location and updates. It’s the same setting that many social tools such as Foursquare default to.

The lesson in all of this privacy madness? If you’re willing to dish out your exact location, be prepared for strange people to track you down. If you’re not interested in that happening, restrict your account so that only family and friends can see your updates.

[flickr image via dpstyles

Hotels sued for enabling peeping tom

ESPN sportscaster (and third place winner of Dancing with the Stars) Erin Andrews has filed a civil lawsuit for $1.2 million against seven hotels (including both Marriott and Radisson) for negligence, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress as they enabled an ambitious peeping tom to film her naked.

Illinois insurance salesman (creepy!) Michael David Barrett stalked Ms. Andrews as she traveled the country, learning which hotels the reporter was staying in–as well as her room number–from hotel staff. Barrett would then check into the adjacent hotel room and alter Andrews’ peephole in order to film her naked and distribute the clips on the internet. He has since been charged, found guilty of interstate stalking, and sentenced to more than two years in jail.

Typically, hotels brandish non-disclosure agreements and front desk employees will refuse to give out names or room numbers of guests. Andrews says she is suing the hotels “for making my most personal moments public.” The hotels named in the suit include the florid Marriott Nashville at Vanderbilt University, the Radisson hotel in Milwaukee, and an another unnamed hotel in Columbus, Ohio. Regardless of the success of the case, the hubbub is likely to increase enforcement of privacy policies at such middle-rate hotels.

Until that day, here’s a small travel tip for hotel guests: if you don’t want people peeking into your room, cover the peephole with a piece of tape, a wad of used chewing gum, a clump or wet tissue, a post-it note covering the peephole, or whatever. It’s that simple.

For further reading, check Robert K. Cole’s excellent analysis of this situation.

(Photo: Flickr/Steve Garfield)

Pilot stalks ex-girlfriend with his plane

If any guy (or gal) thinks buzzing an ex-main squeeze’s house in an airplane is a way to gain favor, think again. It’s most definitely NOT. It is a way to get arrested though. Who can ignore a low flying plane, particularly when the plane continues to fly over the same house, again and again and again and again?

Tom Huey demonstrated this point on Wednesday night, thus adding one more behavior to the list of what a person shouldn’t do when someone says, “It’s over.” Huey buzzed his ex-girlfriend’s house in Concord, California several times which prompted neighbors to call the police.

As it turns out, Huey may have been at it for longer than Wednesday night. A low flying plane has been bothering that neighborhood for a year.

Perhaps Huey wondered just what he’d have to do to get arrested and truly get his ex’s attention. Bingo.

Now he has a hefty bail and could end up with a felony on his record.

Too bad Huey didn’t use his Beech single-engine aircraft for a better use. Think of the nifty lick-ones-wounds weekend trips he could have taken with a friend. Too bad he didn’t read Franz Wisner’s book Honeymoon with My Brother. Wisner was dumped right before his wedding and turned that into a personal growth experience through an around-the-world trip.

What a waste of a pilot’s license. Of course, I’m glad that Huey is no longer flying the skies and people in Concord can have a decent night’s sleep–particularly the ex.


SkyMall Monday: Digital Nightvision Scope

Outside of the SkyMall Monday Headquarters, I’ve seen some epically beautifully things. Soaring mountains, raging waterfalls and rolling meadows that stretched towards what seemed like an infinite horizon. Yep, the world is a beautiful place. But, sometimes that beauty is hiding. Sometimes, that beauty tries to evade you. Sometimes, you have to hunt for that beauty. You see, from time to time, the greatest natural wonder is also the most clever: human. What’s more beautiful than a young lady who perhaps you once datedl. Or who is living in a fifth floor apartment? Or whose court ordered restraining order requires you to stay 100 yards from her? Yes, that is the truest of beauties. But how does one appreciate this gorgeous scenery when the sun goes down? And how does one gaze upon its wonder from a distance approved by local law enforcement? Thankfully, SkyMall understands that beauty is not always about mountains and waterfalls that everyone can share. Sometimes it’s about a beauty that only you deserve to see. And in those complicated times, there’s no better tool for the lover of beauty than the 250′ Digital Nightvision Scope.

With its 250′ range and six hours of battery life, it’s a shame that it doesn’t come with a sandwich, because you’re going to be lurking in the bushes for a while. Now, neither distance nor darkness will stop you from appreciating the natural beauty of that girl who just doesn’t understand that only you can make her happy. Don’t think that a Digital Nightvision Scope is the way to appreciate all the beauty that the world has to offer? Why won’t you people just leave me alone? Well, at least the official SkyMall product description understands me.

Perfect for late night counter-surveillance or daytime surveillance operations…With the help of a tripod, it can be used for stationary long-term viewing as well as for video recording on peripheral equipment.

She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine. Sure, you could use the Digital Nightvision Scope to view those mountains and waterfalls and meadows. But that scenery won’t help you pleasure yourself (unless mountains are your thing, freak).

So, fix yourself a sandwich, grab your favorite lotion and bring the Digital Nightvision Scope with you as you perch yourself on your favorite tree branch. You finally have a room with a view.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.