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How to use Bing Maps for ‘fun’ geo-stalking

Nov 11, 20124 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

Using Bing Maps and the Twitter maps app for 'fun' social geo-stalking: "Let's start with somewhere fun, like the Pentagon..."

When it comes to geo-stalking with Bing Maps, Carnal0wnage must subscribe to the notion of “go big or go home.” The post talks about how Bing maps allow users to add “apps” such as Twitter to make geo/social stalking “fun.”

Plenty of websites have been set up to highlight the dangers of online oversharing and show how leaving geolocation tags in photos could help stalkers or burglars, such as I can Stalk U, We know what you’re doing, Please Rob Me, and Creepy to name but a few. In fact, there has been a previous post about “how to stalk a girl” using Bing maps, even though using an app for stalking violates Microsoft’s Bing Maps Terms of Use. However, in case you don’t know, Chris Gates (Carnal0wnage) and Rob Fuller (Mubix) previously presented interesting talks at Derbycon hacker conferences such as Dirty little secrets revealed by ethical hackers and ‘Dirty Little Secrets Part 2’ at Derbycon 2012. So the Carnal0wnage “Geo-stalking with Bing Maps and the Twitter Maps App” post caught my eye and then held my attention with this: “Let’s start with somewhere fun, like the Pentagon, and see who’s tweeting around there.”

The directions could not be easier. Pick out a place on Bing maps and then click on “map apps” and select Twitter.

Recent geo-tagged tweets will load. CG wrote “As you zoom in, you get a bit more detail. You can also follow specific users and follow them around town :-).”

So I decided to see what “fun” I could have in this way. First I chose 37°14′06″N 115°48′40″W on Bing maps, but there was only one Tweet. In fact, Area 51 was blurry via Bing and the one Tweet was a bit boring.

So then I started over by choosing a new location – 9800 Savage Rd, Fort George G Meade, Maryland, aka the NSA complex.

After selecting the Twitter app on Bing maps, I saw 64 tweets in the past two weeks; most seem to be done by a troll or with a spoofed location.

Spoofed location or troll, tweets from NSA area using Bing maps and Twitter app

Then I remembered who is tweeting from the NSA parking lot has already been made into an article using the Maltego app, which was also recommended by the patriotic hacktivist the Jester.

Deciding to recreate exactly what Carnal0wnage did, I too tried the Pentagon. There 645 total tweets near the Pentagon in the last 14 days.

While I have no desire to geo-stalk anyone, I hadn’t played with Bing maps in this way. But being Veteran’s Day today, I checked out services and commemorations for Veteran’s Day across the USA. President Obama “will visit Arlington National Cemetery to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He will also speak to those gathered in the Memorial Amphitheater.”

But there were only a few geotagged tweets near Arlington National Cemetery; one was a mix of embarrassing and funny.

After finding Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington via Bing, there was a “proud to be an American” geotagged Tweet that I liked:

So I didn’t really geo/social stalk anyone as Carnal0ownage suggested for fun, but I decided to test the theory by searching for a specific hashtag in America that is uniting patriots and dog lovers today on Veteran’s Day. The History Network pledged to donate “$1 for every #ThankAVet tweet to America’s VetDogs.” However, at the time of this posting, there have been only 99 such #ThankAVet tweets from citizens who allow Twitter to broadcast their geolocation. There have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such tweets when looking at a Twitter hashtag search. Will you please unite and support America’s veterans by tweeting with the hashtag #ThankAVet?

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.