Monday, April 28, 2008

location based social network danger

Location-tracking social networks. Location-based blogging. Seems like your pal Vaspers is the single voice speaking out against it. Just wait until a news report makes the danger a mainstream item of outrage.

"You let your daughter sign up for a location-tracking social network?" they ask, astonished. "Why did you let her do such a risky thing?"

I'm deeply distrustful of A Listers and blog pundits who rally to support every new thing, without questioning it. They are irresponsible shills, hyping crap just to be popular, hip, and early adaptor.

Everybody's all hyped up about BrightKite, the new location-based social network. It reminds me of last year's frenzy about Plazes. Plazes automatically displayed your location every time you hooked up with a wifi connection.

Check out how, about a year ago, the CEO of Plazes got busted lying, by his own social network! On TechCrunch "Plazes CEO Busted by His Own Product".

Location-based blogging, or "presence sensing" social networks, let people know exactly where you are, what you're doing, and who you're with. You may have some control over privacy, but most users act ecstatic about letting everybody know where they're at.

There seems to be a Super Transparency craze, where people have become digital voyeurs and exhibitionists. The ideas of solitude, contemplation, and privacy are becoming antiquated. This is quite dismal, thinking of all the forces and organizations who wish to monitor and control people.

It's not a healthy trend for individuals, but it's good for surveillance.

Predators, stalkers, rapists, kidnappers, and domineering husbands will love it.

Young women and children are endangered by it.

Here are two comments posted at a recent blog post, "What's Up With Friend Location Tracking?" at Social Times blog, trumpeting the glories of location transparency as offered by Loopt:


  1. Jonathan Kleiman Says:

    Microvision is going to come out with sunglasses that will tell you who your friends are in a group of people. It’s years down the road, and it depends on the inevitable integration of GPS into social networking. I don’t mind as long as its easy to turn off when you want to go dark.

    It’s pretty amazing actually. To me it really feels to me like an inevitable step in social networking.

  2. theregoesdave Says:

    I think that location presence is the big evolution that we’ll see in 2008. Hopefully Fire Eagle will provide good support for their API and a developer community will rally around it.

    You can actually see my location and latest post or status on my blog or Google gadget. I like to think of it as location-based blogging.

  3. Gaeyia Says:

    Funny that most social media users/consumers grew up in the “stranger-danger” era. Whenever I encounter new tech like this, my first instinct is to fear the stalker potential (especially as a young female) … but then, inevitably, I become intrigued and my curiosity overrides my concern.

    Generally speaking, I feel safe. Almost MORE safe now that I am linked in to a broader network of people. I have to believe that my connection to others provides a new form of protection.

    Do you know if there are any stats re: increased/decreased safety due to social networks? I would like to see :)

  4. vaspers aka steven e. streight Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Location-based social networks are dangerous, especially for women and children. Why on earth would you want just anybody to know where you are all the time?

    The advantage to users is nearly non-existent and the advantage to predators, stalkers, enemies is huge.


Now here's some good advice from Loopt on how to be safe while using it. But I doubt that young people will pay much attention. They're caught up in the frenzy, hype, and peer pressure. At least Loopt is trying to keep it safe for users by posting this.


Safety Tips

1. Only add friends to Loopt who are really your good friends.

Loopt is a closed network meant to be used with good and trusted friends. Who's a really good friend? Ultimately, that's up to you to decide, but here are a few questions to ask yourself about potential Loopt friends:

* Do you have their phone number?
* Do you know where they live and where they grew up?
* Would you loan them your car?
* Would you give them your keys to feed your dog or water your plants?
* Would you feel comfortable knocking on their door just to say 'hi'?

2. Confirm the phone numbers from your invites.

Always double-check that an invite was sent from your friend's real phone number. If it's a web invite, check that the phone number on the invite matches your friend's number.

3. Know who can find you.

Use your location information responsibly. Loopt is built to let you control when and with whom you share or hide your location. You can always control who can find you, and who can see the location of your journal entries.

You can do this from the web or the mobile app. The icons at the top of the mobile app serve as constant reminders of whether all your friends, some of your friends, or nobody can find you.

On the web, you can check who can find you on the Homepage, My Friends and Settings. If you want more information on how to change your location sharing settings, visit the FAQ.

4. Use your journal responsibly.

Think carefully about whether to share the location of your journal entries with your friends, and remember that your journal entries reflect upon you. Please make sure not to post any offensive content. For details on how to hide your journal location, visit the FAQ.



suzymiller said...

I am glad you are questioning these new developments in social software. I like to be able to check out and follow people in Twitter who choose to share whether they live in the same country or region as I do, but that's about as detailed as I need to get. GPS is great on my IPhone when I'm lost, but I don't walk down the street with my address posted on my t-shirt.

darrylbice said...

Looks like another Location Based Service has surfaced, but this is a closed social network that finds your friend on a mobile. It overlays your friends location on a Google map on your mobile or web. Full control over who and when each friend can see you and it's carrier and phone independent. Works great with my GPS phone.