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Hide and Seek: 30 Percent of Adults Use Social Location Tagging



Bonjour! I’m writing this post from a cafe near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. I can prove it:

Paris France
See. Twitter says I’m in Paris. And if you see it on the internet it must be true, right?

Come closer and I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m not in Paris. I’m in Southern California but I found these interesting stats about social location tagging and decided to take the system for a test drive. Turns out you can put anything you want in that space and Twitter accepts it even though my IP address clearly shows where I am.

Usually, I don’t bother with the location on my social posts. It’s not that I have something to hide. It’s more that it’s just not interesting. If I was traveling all over the country, then I’d turn it on. But according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, 30% of adult social media users include location automatically in at least one of their accounts. That’s a significant amount and it’s up from 14% in 2011.

Teens are the ones most likely to reveal their location. Some say they are concerned about privacy issues but others like that parents and friends can see where they are.

On the other hand almost 50% of teens turn off the location-tracking on their phones. That means they’re free to change their social media location data like I did – telling the world they’re one place, when they’re really somewhere else.

But as location tagging rises, geolocation checkins are falling.

geolocation stats

Check-in services such as Foursquare and Gowalla rose last year to 18% but have since dropped off to where they were two years ago. Again, I don’t think it’s fear that is stopping people from revealing their location, it’s boredom. The novelty of a Foursquare badge has worn off. Now we’re too busy posting pictures of our lunch to Pinterest to check-in.

Looking at the larger picture, Pew found that 74% of adult smartphone owners ages 18 and older use their phone to get directions or other information based on their current location such as deals. I like deals.

Where do you stand on the location reveal? Do you like to show off your location? Don’t mind showing your location? Or are you careful to always keep your whereabouts hidden at all times?