Earlier this week a site called Pleaserobme.com was launched making fun of and bringing awareness to privacy and security concerns of using location-based apps. Along with that came an article by TechCrunch posting about the Most Stalker-Friendly person on Gowalla, which at the time before Gowalla investors Kevin Rose and Jason Calacanis decided to update their friends list was me. Even before that, one of my unofficial mentors Andrew Hyde had posted an article called Committing Location Based Service Suicide where he’s giving up location-based apps.
Since then, Brightkite and FourSquare have blogged about practicing safe check-in. TriOut another location-based service for NC only had also posted an article called TriOut and Your Privacy. You can read each post via the link below:
Brightkite: Practicing safe check-in
Foursquare: On foursquare, location & privacy…
TriOut: TriOut and Your Privacy
There are at least 17 other location-based social networks available and it will be interesting to see if and how they will respond to conversations around sites like pleaserobme.com and the growing debate on privacy. Also there’s an article on Read Write Web called: Congress to Hold Hearing on Location Data and Privacy: Today’s Top Stories on Geolocation. So it’s not just the geeks/tech community but it’s something that even government is”checking into”.
Since TechCrunch wants to call Gowalla users or users who use similar apps “stalker friendly” my advice for people using location-based services are simple.
- Don’t check-in at places where you don’t want to be bothered or “stalked”
- Don’t check-in at home or family locations
- Don’t accept every friend request, especially from people you don’t know or trust
- Read the privacy policies of each location-based social network
- Adjust your profile privacy settings on the social network and/or mobile app.
- Use common sense
Personally I have seen a huge value in location-based services from meeting new friends to business opportunities, especially at conferences and in my local community. I do believe privacy is very important but using some of the tips above and more, you should have no worries and that home is safe.
Disclaimer: I’m a partner with TriOut
Do you use location-based apps? If so why or why not and how concerned about privacy are you?