An interesting read on TechCrunch in a recent article about social media, privacy, and most notably, location sharing. What stimulated the initial discussion for the article was the recent cluster at facebook regarding their privacy or lack thereof. Facebook has recently taken steps to make setting privacy for users a little easier, however, I would urge any user of facebook who posts personal data to carefully go through and check all the privacy settings (a tip, make sure your WALL is visible only to your friends)
Techcrunch looks at privacy concerns and raises the issue that this topic is only going to get heated up as location aware services and apps continue to explode – particularly with mobile apps. We’ve seen the uptake of smartphones soar recently and what this has done is that we now have GPS-enabled novice users running around, capturing data and sharing their moments with their social media streams. One of the main issues with location-aware apps and services (Techcrunch looks at Google Latitude as an example) is that most users will typically forget to adjust settings accordingly. Users of GPS equipped smartphones will typically need to adjust settings on the mobile device as well as in specific applications as well (like Flickr, twitter, facebook)… as a long-time GPS-enabled device user I can assure you that this is no simple task and its very easy to forget that you are sharing your location when you may not want to (like when lying in bed at home).
In the early days of mobile social location, Yahoo! came out with FireEagle, a solution that was supposed to help users control their privacy settings and sharing of their location data with various apps… a great concept but to date it really has never taken off. Google Latitude is also a start at a central place to set your sharing preferences, however, it only affects Google apps (like Buzz, Latitude etc…) and many users will often forget about their setting – Latitude is still very useful for Android mobile device users but it still falls short in dealing with the big picture. Smartphone users have the ability to toggle on/off location sharing, however, I’d prefer to have a more detailed sharing option, perhaps the ability to setup the device to share either exact/neighborhood, or city as my location. One solution addressed is that of GeoFencing, something being looked at by SimpleGeo. A great concept where essentially, location services would be controlled, adjusted, or disabled based on your location… for example, imagine a setting on your iPhone that would disable location-sharing whenever you are within 500m of your home… indeed a great idea. See more on this topic at Techcrunch