Sat Feb 4, 2012
I decided to Google my own name a few weeks ago. Most of what I found was expected, but one thing called my attention. I found my own profile at Runkeeper.com. It was a surprise because I had no intention of sharing that information with anyone except one friend. But there it was: my name, exercise times, distances, even the exact route in a map. I’m usually very aware of privacy issues and think before sharing, so I found this extremely annoying.
I immediately went and changed my name. I tried to change my photo but it didn’t work. There is no button to delete my photo either. After many attempts I tried using Firefox. It allowed me to replace the photo in my profile, but not in their forums.
It came to my mind that if my profile was there, others’ were too. I went to Google and restricted my search to their domain: google.com/search?q=site:runkeeper.com. Have a look at it yourself: over a million profiles waiting to be downloaded. Most of them with name, last name, city, sometimes weight, and often a very detailed map of where exactly this person was running or cycling. I would say most users do not know this information is there for everybody to see. I think there is more than one way this information can be abused. Maybe by health insurance companies or by someone wanting to enter your home. Just as an experiment, I searched in Google+ some of the names on that list. I felt tempted to write them a message and ask if they knew their details are online, but decided to write this post first.
There is a discussion in their forums about this issue. I made a copy here in case it’s taken down. In comment #22 someone from support claims they can not do anything about Google indexing their page, which is not true. He even says we should contact Google about this, which is ridiculous.
If you use Runkeeper, watch out and let your friends know about this.