The internet is a scary place — many of us have been taught this since we were children, but we haven’t always heeded the advice. I remember when my parents yelled at me for putting up a picture in a bikini on Myspace, but now, parents have even more to worry about than pervy people online who want to look at young strangers. Now, they have to worry about people actually finding them and their children.
Yes, a man on TikTok who goes by Jose Monkey has shown parents, kids, and the rest of us how he can find anyone using some simple coding and geolocation. In doing so, he successfully scares (and teaches) us all about how dangerous the internet can be.
Jose Monkey makes TikTok videos to show how he can find anyone using geolocation.
Jose is a pretty smart guy; luckily, he’s using his talent for good. But not everyone with his skills would necessarily use them as an educational tool. Some might be more nefarious. And although Jose’s goal is to teach people about internet safety, he’s also teaching people how to use his geolocation knowledge in the process.
Basically, Jose’s tagline is that he “finds people who want to be found.” Anyone over the age of 18 who tags Jose and asks him to find them has the opportunity to be found. What this means is that if someone posts a random video in a random place, Jose will use his skills to figure out where in the world they are.
He has some very specific rules to make sure he’s only finding people who want to be found, such as that they must tag him and must show their face speaking so that he knows it’s not a voiceover. He even has printouts that people can hold that say, “Find me!”
Typically, someone such as a parent, or just anyone, will ask Jose to find them. They either want to test him or to prove a point to someone they know that anyone can find anyone with very little information. These people tend to record selfie videos in nondescript locations and in doing so, they challenge Jose to find their location with no other information.
In one video, a mother asks Jose to find her. He’s able to pinpoint her exact location in Winder, Ga., using the landmarks, shops, and shadows. He figures out which way she’s facing and the direction of the roads behind her. He finds a water tower, a small shed, a CVS, and a Wendy’s. With just that information, Jose is able to create a map of what he expects her area looks like.
As of July 2023, he’s found over 100 different people’s locations. And now, the more popular he gets, the more people there are who ask Jose to find them, which means he has plenty more locations to go.
People must request to be found by Jose Monkey ... although not all geolocation wizards are as respectful.
Why are people so into being found? Perhaps it comes down to just wanting to challenge Jose. Or, as people often comment, they want to teach and protect the people they love from using the internet unsafely. But there’s likely also a main-character syndrome aspect to wanting to be found.
We all know about main character energy, and while it’s looked at as a negative thing, we should think of ourselves as the main characters in our stories! However, we are not the center of the universe. But when Jose finds us, it gives us a sense of existing in this vast world. And for one moment, we might feel like the center, even if we’re not. Some people might need that feeling and benefit from it. But it could do more harm than good for those who fall on the narcissism spectrum.
Even still, Jose is doing important work by making people, especially young people, aware of how much information is readily available. And although he talks us through how he finds each of the requests, he doesn’t actually dive into the coding of it all, so unless an ill-intentioned person has vast coding knowledge, Jose’s skills aren’t very transferrable.
One of the best things Jose can do aside from finding people who ask to be found is that he can figure out where different movies and television series are filmed. So there are other uses for Jose’s geolocation skills besides creepily teaching us all a very important lesson!