Some people really enjoy using location services, but the vast majority of us are not checking with Facebook Places, Foursquare or any other location-based service. As a New York Times article points out, just one percent of Americans use location based services on a weekly basis. Location based ‘check in’ services aren’t going to take off unless privacy concerns are fully addressed and people find meaningful utility from sharing their locations.
One of the biggest challenges facing mobile location-based services is that many of us, even geeks, aren’t comfortable revealing our whereabouts 24/7 in real time. Sure, I update my Twitter status with mentions of my location from time to time, but I’ve disabled the services geo-location feature.
Unfortunately, some social networking and community sites have already become hunting grounds for predators. Criminals can now find empty houses or vulnerable victims near them by simply browsing through status updates. The dangers of this kind of behavior were brought to light by PleaseRobMe.com. Adding exact location to the mix just increases the chances criminals will find their marks.
Location-based services are the ultimate over-sharing tool. Potential burglaries aside, I simply don’t feel the need to have friends, family and total strangers know my whereabouts on a constant basis. It might be interesting for some people to know, in real time, that I’m visiting the Taj Mahal, eating dessert in Venice, shooting an IndyCar race or riding along with my brother in his police car. Pretty fun stuff, but like most other people I know, my locations are pretty dull and routine. I don’t think anyone cares if I’m buying orange juice at either Trader Joes, eating at the same dozen or so restaurants that I always eat at in the neighborhood, or filling up at the local Shell station.
Facebook Places is amongst the most creepy location-based services. By default, ‘friends’ can check each other in at locations without prior approval. One of our most popular articles over at Notebooks.com last week was How to Disable Facebook Places.
Are you using location-based services on a regular basis? If so, why? Do you follow or care about any of your friends/family member locations?