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Tina

There is this TikTok* creator that I follow, her name is Tina*. Tina is creating workout videos as well as more personal content where she is telling jokes, talking to her siblings and parents, and some other random funny stuff. Tina is in her early 20s, she is living with her parents and multiple younger siblings. She is posting new content almost every day and she has 70k followers. Her content is definitely at amateur-level (she is just recording videos with her phone, no extensive editing or post-processing, no paid partnerships, she is not making any money there). On the other hand, my feeling is that Tina has clear boundaries on what she wants to share, she does not reveal too much about herself beyond some basic facts about herself and her family. It seems to me that privacy matters to her: she never shows other people accidentally and almost all of her videos are recorded in abstract "could be anywhere" surroundings.

geoguessr

Now, I like to play a game called geoguessr. The game works like this: You get a photo and a google maps world-map. The goal is to guess the right geo-location, the closer you nail it the more points you get. Sometimes I also do this with other photos and content I find online.

Finding Tina's home

I also did it with Tina's account. Yesterday I thought "let's figure out which town she is from". And to my own surprise, 20 minutes later I had first figured out the town, then her primary video recording location and then I was looking at her family home in google street view. All I had needed were hints from three out-of-the-ordinary videos. I was both a bit proud of this achievement as well as a bit creeped out by it, as if I was violating her "private sphere".

Letting her know about it

And today it somehow got me thinking. Should I let her know about this? Point out the three videos that included the hints, so she could remove them? My first impression was: yes, definitely. Because, like any young attractive woman on social media, she also has a majority of older, male followers, and every content she posts immediately receives a load of male-attention comments from nice to cheesy to creepy. And I am reading/watching/listening to too much true crime stories not to suspect a creepy stalker behind every other corner.

But then my second impression was: Maybe the "it was easy to figure out where you live, you should take down those videos" message would have a very negative impact on her. Maybe this message would creep her out, take the fun and light-heartedness out of her content creation. Essentially, that my message would cause harm instead of preventing harm.

---> Conclusion: I want to let her know about it, but in the least-creepy way possible.

Questions

How should I make contact? I think, I'd have the following options to make contact:

  • private message on TikTok
  • flag the respective videos on TikTok, so that TikTok could remove them (which is unlikely)
  • snail mail

Anonymous vs. personal? Would this kind message be more pleasant for her if it came from some abstract anonymous person, or should I introduce myself, reveal some personal information about myself, etc.?

Specific/explicit vs. broad/implicit? Should the message clearly lay out why the content made it easy to figure out her location, maybe going through it step by step? Or should I just talk about the risk in general, maybe just pointing to the relevant content as examples?

What other parameters of the way in which I communicate this to her, could make it better or worse?

Just to clear any doubts up-front: I am male, heterosexual, 12 years older than Tina. I find her lovely and attractive, but I am in a happy long-term relationship with the woman of my life. So I am not having any romantic interest here, nor trying to force myself into Tina's life. I am also living in another country and more than 600m/1000km away.

*details changed to preserve privacy.

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    Whatever you do, don't start with "I know where you live"... Additionally have you considered pointing her to this question, where everything is actually specified in a non-creepy way.
    – Laurent S.
    Jul 19 at 21:10
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I've thought about this a lot. I'm a woman who's young and attractive enough to get some male attention myself. I've also known people who looked up personal info on me when we barely knew each other, and it's always made me uncomfortable. Even if it's public info that I wouldn't mind sharing with strangers, it's still off-putting to know someone would look up info that they presumably don't feel comfortable directly asking me for. It makes me feel like that person is probably not great with boundaries, so I need to be cautious around them (which has generally been true). I don't think there's a way you can say you found her address without it being creepy.

Instead, I suggest you message her and tell her you play a game that involves guessing locations based on photos, and so you noticed some of her videos might make it possible to find her location. Ask if she'd like your advice on making it harder to do so. I'd also include something along the lines of "maybe you're already aware of this and/or don't mind it at all, in which case feel free to disregard this message". That avoids making her feel like she should be worried if it's generally not something she already cares about. Definitely don't mention her creepy male followers or all the crime shows you watch. Do not say you already used it to find her location or even that you're sure it's possible.

This will come across more as you're a casually interested viewer who happened to notice something she might like to know. It feels more along the lines of "I saw you baking cookies and found this recipe you might enjoy" than "I easily found where you live and any of your creepy followers could do the same and then rape and murder you." Just thinking about getting a message like the latter turns my stomach, and I'd be fine posting my address publicly.

If she does take you up on your offer of advice, then provide exactly that: general advice on what you look for to identify locations of pictures. If this is something she cares about, then she needs to know a more general explanation of what to avoid in future videos more than which ones currently expose her. Talking about it in a general sense will be less threatening, too. Maybe give one or two examples from videos that are easy to notice, but nothing that you'd have to look hard for. If it starts to seem like you spent a bunch of effort to track her down, she won't be thinking "wow, a nefarious person could also do this and then hurt me". Instead she'll wonder if you're a nefarious person who plans to hurt her. At least I would.

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    "I suggest you message her and tell her you play a game that involves guessing locations based on photos" - and that doesn't sound creepy?
    – gnasher729
    Jun 2 at 14:41
  • Hey Kat! I see you backed up the part about why any message saying 'I found your address' might not work.... but do you have any experience that confirms the other approach works/is less creepy? I'm having trouble deciding if your example of cookies and recipes is your experience, or just something you came up with while thinking about what might be a better way to handle this?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jun 2 at 15:00
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    @gnasher729 imo it's not creepy to play a game like that, I assume the pictures are from something like Google street view instead of random personal photos. I think the explanation given in the question of why OP has that skill isn't creepy. Some people may feel differently.
    – Kat
    Jun 3 at 19:09
  • @Tinkeringbell the example isn't specifically something I experienced, it was just to explain in a relatable way the difference between what OP wanted to do and what I'm suggesting.
    – Kat
    Jun 3 at 19:13
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    I would find this extremely worrying and creepy. How many horror movies start with "Let's play a game"? How many strangers approach you to "play a game"?
    – gnasher729
    Jun 25 at 17:35

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