Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Fan of Sharing My Location- Be Careful When Sharing Your Location

By: Ali El-Dous

People share the air they breathe, water, food, and resources all over the globe. However, their geographical locations is a different matter. When you think about how big the Earth is, seven continents, according to Wikipedia, consisting of a total land area of 148,647,000 square kilometers, you can then imagine how difficult it is to locate a person without a Global Position System (GPS). Global Positioning System (GPS) devices can be found everywhere nowadays: They're used in cars, boats, airplanes, and even in cellular phones. Handheld GPS receivers are carried by cyclists, hikers, surveyors, map makers, and others who need to know where they are. Like any other invention, the GPS has advantages along with disadvantages and it all depends on how much we understand it, and how we use it. The focus here is on the issues that surround sharing locations on social networks using the GPS feature.
The “Sharing Location” is a feature which allows any user of a mobile, tablet, or any other electronic device, which supports GPS , to share his/her current location. It’s very important to point out that the people who share their current location might do it strictly for show without fully understanding that it might be harmful to them. We see a lot of people who share their location while eating in a five star hotel or traveling to a rich country with friends solely to make a social statement. But of course, that doesn't apply to everyone.

Now, any normal person can track others throughout the social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Moreover, sharing location feature has become an issue where privacy violation can be committed. Some current applications available on the market such as Footprints. Footprints has a feature to automatically share locations on social networks without the permission of the device owner. This would be a problem to those who are going to private places or don’t want their destinations or even homes to be publically announced for different reasons. This feature may also result in theft, where a person could possibly share his/her location visiting luxurious places and becomes a target to thieves. Another Application that operates on Apple devices that we should be aware of is called Find My Friends. This application allows Apple users to track the movements of their friends or family and once again, facing the same disatvantages as other location share applications.

One of the negative effects due to sharing locations on social networks is data collection companies (DCCs). Those companies sell our information to others looking for high income by targeting their advertisements. The data being collected by the DCCs includes, for example, most visited restaurants, countries and hotels. 
We don’t know what other data these companies are collecting. again, our personal data is being collected and sold, and this is a source for income for DCC. However, the key issue here is people’s privacy is being violated, and they are mostly unaware of it!

Generally speaking, it’s all about people who use new technologies. When using a GPS to share a location on social networks sites, people have to be aware of what they share. Besides that, what they share represents their personality. The awareness is crucial especially for young people who tend to have less knowledge about protecting their privacy online. A rich book full of examples about privacy violations called “I know who you are and I saw what you did” is really suggested for people to raise their awareness in this field “how to pay attention to your privacy over the internet (online)”.

“Before you share, make sure that you’re aware”

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