We like it when our favorite networks offer more features, but we fear that we’re feeding too much personal information into the machine to make those features possible. We yearn for greater connection, yet we worry about our privacy.
It’s the eternal struggle of the social-media scene, and nowhere is it more obvious than with location-based services.
On the one hand, there’s a lot of excitement around networks such as Foursquare and MyTown. The idea of making social plans on the fly is appealing to some, while others enjoy broadcasting their activities or even earning special privileges at some businesses.
On the other hand, the concerns are persistent and, unlike some privacy worries on traditional social networks, they’re grounded in the real world. We’re not just talking about a company maybe knowing more about my music preferences than I want it to know, or spammers, or even the threat of hackers and identity thieves. Location-based threats exist in the real world, and they speak to some of our deepest fears. What if I’m stalked? What my home is robbed while I’m out? What if I’m attacked? And what if? And what if?
Some networks, such as the newly launched Rally Up, try to ameliorate these fears somewhat by placing a stronger emphasis on privacy and security. But even the best network can open people up to some real risks if they’re careless. Can location-based social networks ever really be safe?
Do you use location-based networks? Are you concerned about the privacy issues they present? Is there anything these networks can do to limit their users’ exposure?
Image credit, Galushko Sergey, via Shutterstock