You have to wonder, are “Joe and Sue Public” really aware of how much information they are sharing, particularly their location sensitive information? Now that location sharing services the likes of foursquare, GoWalla, and fb Places going mainstream are people really in the know about what they are giving up? There’s no surprise that check-in fatigue was rampant, as a result the services are now offering even more discounts and coupons encouraging users to share their location and favorite things – I’m even hearing rumblings of a Groupon acquisition of foursquare which actually may indeed make loads of sense.
But does the casual user really know what they are sharing?? I have to guess not really. I’ll pick on GoWalla at the moment as I myself just donated my location and checkin to GoWalla at a local Starbucks. After checking in I did a little snooping around – many users likely by-pass this and move along, however, for the curious, the findings might just be a little surprising. Post checkin I easily see the names and profiles of other people who have checked in at this same venue (I’m gonna guess that perhaps this sharing could be hidden with the correct security settings) as well as people who are here right now. I’m gonna pick on Sue as an example as she was the last person who also checked in here. Here’s what I can see about Sue, and by the way, I’m not connected of “friended” with her in any way:
- I see her full name and a large profile photo
- I see her fiends
- I see all her checkin activity along with the location of venues on a map painting a pretty clear picture of her favorite places and her schedule
- finally, I see where she checked in 5 minutes ago, enabling me to easily go there and make contact should I elect to do so
I have to wonder, does Sue even realize that a complete stranger who she is connected to has access to all this positional information?