First, what is location-based or location aware social media: location aware social media allows users to opt-into an interface that can pinpoint their location when they post through GPS, mobile email, or text. In essence, online readers know where you are, when you are there, and what you may be doing there.
As soon as we heard: where you are and when you there, our ears perked up and we thought, “Would I want someone that I don’t know – who is not even in my online friend circle – to know exactly where I am?”
So what are the potential risks in location-based social media?
(1) Your Boss Finds Out You Aren’t Grabbing that Cup of Coffee
The first thing we thought of was that users may be unwittingly giving away their information to everyone on these social media platforms. Something as innocent as running out to get a cup of coffee, then Tweeting quickly about an Hermes scarf as you stand outside the Hermes store near Rockefeller could send a message to your boss that you are not where you are supposed to be. In a world of digitally alert bosses, human resources, and co-workers, the last thing you want to do is appear to be somewhere you are not supposed to be.
Twitter & Facebook posts have gotten people fired. Those aren’t protected classes under employment law.
(2) Your Personal Safety is at Issue
Having spent some time working in crimes against women & children in the District Attorney’s office in Atlanta, we automatically thought of one glaring issue: predators & minors. With the explosion of MySpace in the digital sphere, there was a critical concern of safety issues with minors connecting with predators online. With something as innocuous as an online post an a location-aware site, these same minors are exclaiming their location to those same predators.
(3) Everyone Knows if You are at Home or Not
There have already been burglaries that may be linked to online status postings: ”Out of town for the week!” on Twitter or “Won’t be home till 2am” on a public profile on Facebook. While it’s true that most people don’t make a habit of running through social media posts to plan their next heist – it’s also not unheard of. A location based social media platform would make it increasingly easy for these crimes to occur, because there will be an online database of all the empty homes in that location. To tempting to resist?
We’re not saying that location based social media is a bad thing, but as with all things out there: realize & assess the risks!