Susan is having coffee at Starbucks in Santa Monica. Mike is seeing a movie at Edwards Fashion Island. Cynthia is at Home feeling Left Out!
Geolocation applications are taking hold of the social media world thanks to the proliferation of smart phones and wifi hot spots. Now it’s not enough to Twitter what you had for lunch, you have to have an application that announces the exact restaurant for all to see. It’s a strange trend, given the number of people that are constantly taking aim at Facebook’s privacy issues. What’s even stranger is that, according to a survey by cyber-security firm Webroot, 55% of people who use geolocation applications are actually concerned about the lack of privacy.
Yes, you read that right. In an article published by SFGate, it was noted that 45% of social media users said they were afraid that burglars might use location information to rob their homes while they’re away. 49% of women, said they feared that the information could be used by stalkers.
These are real fears, and yet these same people continue to tweet their locations and strive to become the mayor of the Fifth Street Playground on Foursquare. 29% of the people surveyed admitted to sharing their locations with people other than friends and one in nine used a location-based tool to meet a stranger (digitally or in person).
Jeff Horne, Director of Threat Research at Webroot says,
“People often get excited about the new features available on social networks and forget about the power of the Internet and the amount of valuable information they give away through the simple act of updating their status and ‘checking-in’ at their current location.”
Most of the people who use geolocation applications say they share that information only with friends. Unfortunately, companies with better security than Foursquare have had major data leaks, so any information shared via social media is at risk of falling into unintended hands.
Now that Twitter has added an option to show your location when you tweet, there are even more ways to tell your friends, and your enemies, where you are at any given moment. And you’ll do it, even though more than half of you worry that a simple tweet might steer you right into trouble.