IM Stalking takes a NEW level!

You may’ve heard of social mapping on cellphones (pinpointing friends’ physical location with GPS technology – see “Mobile socializing”). Now there’s social mapping in IM. AOL’s AIM instant messenger “adds a new group of AIM’s buddy list windows called ‘Near Me’,” the Associated Press reports. This isn’t GPS (global positioning system). Near Me “tracks locations by using the continuous wireless pulses emitted at Wi-Fi hot spots and by Wi-Fi home networks instead of satellite-based positioning. It’s a free download, so AIM users at your house could already have it – something parents might want to check. “The application also can display a buddy’s location on a map. For now, these capabilities will be available when using AIM on a computer, but not on a cellphone,” the AP adds.

BlogSafety Community: Pinpointing IM users …

It would be very, very wrong to believe that tweens/teens, and yes– even some kids aren’t using AIM. They are. In droves.  We’ve posted links to stats and so on for a while now

I was a camp counselor for nigh on 10 years (best experience, kids were great, but fellow counselors were amazing– some of my best friends to date).  At the end of each summer we’d give kids our home address and even our AIM’s (these were 7, 8, 9 year olds) to keep in touch with us– their parents too (much needed babysitting money during winter months).  One of my campers I basically nannied for 4 years.  Her name was Portia.  Doll of a kid. 

Well, while I was living in Cardiff, Wales (for the MA), Portia turned 11. Portia used aim.  My dearest little nugget was leaving away messages like “Why did Fred and Wilma have a kid? Because they lived in Bedrock”  AHHHHHHHHHHHH!  Naturally I left the “What the heck is that joke, young lady” message for her to find when she returned.  She was 11 leaving messages like that on her aim?! 

Portia wasn’t the only one.  I’ve old campers popping up all the time, with creepy messages that make me shed a tear for their innocent childhood.  But that’s their road to adulthood, not mine (alas, I’m STILL trying to find my road… but that’s my charm 😉 ).

The whole idea that these kids could download such a creepy-plug in just makes me sad.  AIM is such a huge, established IM-monster now… I just don’t know… how could you even stop kids from finding & uploading it?  Not to mention, I find the whole GPS thing creepy.  I’m far older than 13 and it would creep ME out knowing that anyone could find me as I wonder the streets of Chicago.  But to be somewhere with my laptop, and having anyone off my AIM list drop by? AAAAAH & YIKES.  You can even add a Zoinks to that too!

I don’t know about any of you… but I’ve had my dr.evil-inspired AIM username since ’99.  That means I have sorority sisters, ex-college soccer teammates, ex-classmates, ex-boyfriends, ex-friends, and ex-campers; not to mention there are the random foriegn-friends I’ve passed my AIM name to while backpacking/living abroad and those strangers I’ve had AIM chats with while bored in the computer lab during undergrad (come on, you know you had those weird chats too).  I would never want to put such a tracking-feature into my aim service. 

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