Many apps today are capable of tracking people's whereabouts and what they are doing on their smartphones. Some popular apps, like Facebook and Instagram, even have a feature that lets users post their current location. The feature, commonly known as "geotagging," tells viewers where the social media user is at the moment the post is made.
With the number of posts revealing a person's location, it's not difficult to understand that people just don't care about others knowing where they are. These "others" include family, friends, and potential stalkers. This is something that people should be concerned about.
In an attempt to show just how much people don't mind sharing sensitive data to others via Instagram, an app aptly named "Who's In Town" was created, Wired reported. Those who install the app are given the ability to know who, among the people they follow on Instagram, is in town.
The app, which works on both iOS and Android, works this way:
- First, it gives users a a quick overview showing their friends' last location. Users can filter friends' locations "by week, the weekend, or even the last hour," allowing them to keep track of these Instagram users' movements.
- Second, users will also be given access to their friends' location history. This will only work if those friends make their location visible.
- Third, users interested in meeting up with a nearby friend can send a message to them by simply tapping on the message icon.
According to the app's creator, Erick Barto, a lot of people like to share their location information on the app. He conducted a pre-release study keeping track of posts coming from over 15,000 people over several weeks' time. Barto said about 30 percent of those who post Instagram stories geotag at least one location over just one weekend.
"The amount of data is insane," Barto said.
Who benefits from it
While the app is seen to help Instagram users see who among their friends and family members are nearby and can be invited to a hangout, the app can also be used for some unpleasant purposes, said Jason Polakis, security researcher and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"This capability is problematic ... from a privacy perspective as long-term aggregate data can potentially be misused in various ways," Polakis said, and one of these ways is stalking.
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