Location Based Applications Not Such A Good Idea

Everyday millions of people log into Facebook or onto their phones and update their statuses, tweet, email and text. Since the Facebook boom, and the growing popularity of application based electronics, the trend of reporting ones activities and thoughts has been growing, and because of features such as Facebook Places and apps such as Foursquare it has become that much easier to do so. The idea of applications that allow users to identify where they are was the next logical step in the social media world. With there being a constant demand for new features and updates on social media sites it was really a no brainer to create an application that allowed users to not only pinpoint exactly where they are, but publish it for their friends, and the world, to see.
Such features and applications were created with the idea that it would provide users an easier means of seeing which of their friends were in their immediate are and meeting up with them. It then grew to being a tool for users to see what restaurants or stores were near them. Location based applications then grew into a tool for advertising and marketing, allowing businesses to pinpoint their messages to those within a certain vicinity of their business or product. It has gotten to the point that location based applications, such as Foursquare, have turned the process of “checking in” into a competitive game to play with friends and family.
Due to location based applications, I have found it much easier to meet up with friends randomly (which given that I knew their location it wasn’t very random) and had the opportunity to spend time with people I otherwise would see once in a blue moon. Friends of mine also compete in “checking in” challenges, and I constantly get updates on where my friends and family are.
While location based applications have improved things socially for many people, there are those that have used the technology for means that it was not necessarily intended for. There have recently been connections made between location based application use and burglary. With the ability to sign up for notifications of people’s locations, and the ease of just looking it up, we are practically shouting that we aren’t home and our valuables are unattended too. Right at my fingertips I know when you’re home, when you’re not home, approximately how long you’ll be gone given your history of being at certain places. It’s practically a handwritten daily organizer at this point.
As someone who used to use a lot of location based apps, I have since been humbled and very cautious about what I publish and where. I find it to be unfortunate that we live in a world where something created as a means for increasing social behaviors has been turned into something that can be used to cause harm to others. While location based applications weren’t intended to be used maliciously, they have been turned into it, and those who use them should be very cautious with the information they choose to publish.

This entry was posted in General, Science and Technology. Bookmark the permalink.