“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me’.”
-Philip K. Dick
Location based-services (LBS) and data privacy have been the source of a lot of debates over the last few years. From the most common uses (the GPS app on your phone that you use when you’re lost in the countryside), to the less common ones, your location data are collected by a different number of apps. But a lot of users are wondering where do these information go, and how are they used.
Social media enhanced the location data sharing, allowing its users to tell the world where they are in only one click. Other social media apps are even based on location sharing, one of the most famous being Foursquare. Foursquare is an app created in 2009 that allows its users to check in at venues, earning thus different kind of “badges”. The more check in the users do, the bigger their “scoring” is. Brands can also associate their promotions to certain venues, inviting the users to use the app on a regular basis in order to take advantage of those.
From a marketing point of view, being able to know where potential customers are, with whom and what they are doing in real time is gold. LBS, and social media in general, completely changed the way marketing works. However, whether it is about Facebook, Foursquare or GoogleMap, the voices of users wondering what these apps are doing with all their personal location data are raising.
LBS should not be considered as purely negative though. Indeed, it’s premiere function is to offer to internet and mobile users with an interactive social media experience, function very well done. Moreover some apps like GadgetTrack are using location to help users find their device in case it is stolen, by taking a picture of the person using it and providing their location as well.
Most users only ask for more transparency in LBS, to be in control of their phone instead of the opposite.