Social Media: I Can See You

It seems that you can’t switch on an app or join up to a new one without it requesting you to add your location to every piece of information and update possible. No matter the app, they all think it’s important to share your location with your followers or friends. This article looks at some apps which do this and why it should only be used with caution.

Facebook

Facebook is the biggest of all the networking platforms and is also the most problematic. It seems to have little regard to user experience and cares only about sharing as much information with others as possible. I’ve written before about their flippant attitude to people’s private data being openly shared, sometimes even without their knowledge. Facebook has a number of issues with location though. This article doesn’t include “Check-In” as this is an option you do manually.

  • If you use a new laptop or device to update your profile, eg, a new phone, laptop or computer etc, your location will automatically be added to the post, as the image below shows. You have to manually turn this off if you wish to stop this showing up on all of your updates and posts. You can find out how by clicking the link above. Just because your settings on one device may be turned off, it does not mean this will apply to other machines you may use.

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 22.53.54

  • There was recently an update which saw Facebook chat features adding your location to each person you talk to. You can either turn this off for each individual person you talk to, or head to your settings and turn it off completely.Either way, your location is once again, automatically added to the message updates so if you don’t want someone knowing where you are, be sure to check your data and turn it off before messaging them. Also, be sure that just because you turn it off for one person you chat to, it does not blanket cover everyone so it will be visible to others. To turn this off all together, go to your Settings, followed by Messenger Location Service and then disable it.

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 23.15.39

Twitter

It’s not just Facebook that want to share where in the world you are, Twitter is also at it. Twitter wants to add a small location tag to each of your tweets so your followers know where you are. They now have a pop up asking you to add your map to the service so they can share that information. They seem to think it will customise your Twitter experience. Seeing as the way you tweet doesn’t change depending on where you are, I fail to see how this will work. The only thing it does is inform others who follow you where you are. Unlike with Facebook, this is an easy step to prevent, simply click “Don’t Allow” and you will stop it happening.

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Viber

Viber is a mobile phone device a little like Skype which allows you text and call for free. Even this app allows you to share your location with the recipients. Again, it is easy to turn off, just click the small arrow to the right of the message box so it is no longer purple. Beware, it is easy to accidentally turn on though so be sure you don’t hit it without intent!

Why This Is Unnecessary and Maybe Even Bad

There is little need to have the location of your current whereabouts added to every single update or message that you publish or send. It makes no difference to user experience. It may be argued that with Facebook, it can allow you to be informed when a friend is within a X mile proximity so you could meet up. Alternatively, you could just text or phone friends saying, “hey, lets meet up here today!”. It’s not essential to either your social media use or your friendships. It can also be dangerous. One issue which may arise is, if people realise that your updates across social media are away from your usual home, they may know that your house is empty and so leaves your property open to bad behaviour. Another issue may be the fact that people know where you are and that leaves you in a vulnerable position. It may mean that people you don’t want knowing where you are, are able to see and maybe find you. Of course, this is worse case scenario and not likely, but these are things that could happen with this shared data often and repeatedly across many networks.

Conclusion

Always be sure that your social media settings are up to date and relevant for each device you use and that you always know what is being published. Never trust social media to look after your data, be sure to keep settings up to date and as you want them by checking them manually and often.

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