In spite of my dire predictions for location-based social media, it seem that for some people, at least there is a place for it. Google managed to annoy a lot of people with Latitude, yet they have included an element of this into Google Buzz (I still don’t really understand what Google Buzz is, but there it is, sitting in my Google account and I have to ‘friends’ and no idea who they are). One friend of mine gave a good example of where Latitude works well. He works in London, and lives in Cambridge. As do a number of his friends. They all use Latitude to see who has arrived at the station. If there are any friends nearby then they go for a drink. Fair enough. It probably wouldn’t work in London because the place is just so disparate.
The most recent one to catch my attention is FourSquare (what? you hadn’t heard of it before? well no, but I can’t know everything). Another friend is using it quite happily. And he as some ‘friends’, basically people he has never met, knowing where he is. And the point of this is what, exactly? It also has a Twitter element, with live micro blogging. I just looked at the most recent post. Someone talking about the chicken casserole. Wow, cutting edge stuff.
The cynics amongst us (yup that’s me), makes me think that this is little more than a licence for burglary and stalking. There’s a good blog on it here. But am I being paranoid? I would say no, not at all. I would say that everyone using these location-based social media systems are not paranoid enough. The amount of information we give out through social media is frightening. Worse still, people are looking for you. Checking my own site’s analytics I can see that my name is one of the top search terms! It is also important to remember that the internet does not forget. What you post is always there. For ever. It may not be important to you at this stage, but as some point in your life a disparaging comment about a corporate, or a drunken photo of you in drag will come back to haunt you.
It’s the same with location services. It may seem innocuous for now, but as we get wiser to things like phising attacks, I can see the next development being location phising (‘Hi, I’m a very pretty girl, you’re near me, why don’t we meet for a drink?’), using the information to rob your house. It has been pointed out that for many people the most valuable items are the things you carry around with you – smartphones, laptops and credit cards. But that’s also fine if you are a thief, location services will tell them exactly where you and your iphone are!