In addition to the two previous posts discussing geotagging, I thought it was important to point out other applications that may reveal a little too much information about the user. Some social media websites such as Facebook.com provide the option of sharing your location. This can be done on a smartphone or on a computer and now Facebook even includes a map of your exact check-in location with a space to add text and the ability to tag the people you are with. Twitter has a similar feature that allows locations to be added to tweets. While this might seem like a good way for individuals to document where they have been, this also provides sexual predators with a lot of information that can be used to harm.
Another similar application is Foursquare.com, which actively encourages its users to check in their locations on their phones to connect with other friends who might be in the area. The problem is that Foursquare can be linked to other social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter so unless all accounts are completely private, there is a chance that someone who is not a “friend” will see your location.
While these features may seem fairly innocuous, they also hold the possibility of alerting predators to your location. Facebook literally provides a map of where you are, which practically leads an assailant right to your exact current location. As of May 2011, 17% of the U.S. population had checked-in using an app on their mobile device (Hargreaves, 2011). 90% of people who have checked-in have done so using Facebook Places and the top check-in destinations were restaurants, coffee shops/cafes, hotels, and bar/clubs. (Hargreaves, 2011). Out of those statistics, the most concerning is probably the amount of people who check in at bars/clubs because of the added factor of alcohol and lessened inhibitions. It is important that the people using these services realize how easy it can be for this information to be used against them, especially if they are not alerted to the dangers. It is necessary for individuals to be aware that what they put out on the Internet can translate to real life in a negative way.
Hargreaves, David. “The Reality Behind the “Check-In” Hype.” Weblog post. Beyond Rethinking Digital. Beyond International, 4 May 2011. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://bynd.com/2011/05/04/social-loco-research/>.