Location Sharing: Which Companies Use It, How It Can Be Dangerous and How To Protect Yourself - LIFESTYLE

Mikki Krause Written by Mikki Krause
Last Updated: 7/29/2020
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Location Sharing: Which Companies Use It, How It Can Be Dangerous and How To Protect Yourself

What is location sharing? Location-sharing applications (apps) allow you to share your location electronically using the GPS function in your smartphones. For example, Apple uses the feature called “Find My.” Find My is an application that allows you to share your location with any iPhone user.To use this application, type in the person's phone number that you would like to follow into the Find My search bar. The person that receives that request can either accept or decline it. If the person accepts to see your location, they can agree or disagree to share theirs as well. Once completed, a world map will appear. You will see icons of people throughout the map that are sharing their locations with you. It also includes your location in real-time. Each time you move from street to street, your followers can see that. Location sharing is an excellent way to keep in touch with your friends, family members, or partner. But are there any concerns that come with sharing your location?

What Is The Point Of Sharing Your Location?

Many people use location-sharing apps for safety reasons. Location-sharing apps are a great way to check up on friends and family members when they do not answer their phones or are late to an event. It can save people time as well. Instead of texting your friends and asking what they are doing, you can look at the app Find My to see where they are. Not only that but sharing your location can help you locate your phone if you ever lose it. If you were ever put in this situation ask a friend that shares locations with you to look at the app. The Find My app will tell you exactly where your phone is located. No need to worry about where your phone is, when you have your location services turned on.

How Do Location Settings Work On Apple iPhones?

Apple uses a three-part algorithm to figure out where an Apple user's location is. This three-part algorithm is part of the operating system (iOS). The first step in this system utilizes a GPS satellite signal to find your location. If that signal fails, the system moves on to using your Wi-Fi to locate you. If none of that works, it uses a cell tower. If all fails, the Find My app will inform you that their technology could not find whoever you were looking for at this time.

Some Of The Companies That Use Location Sharing: Google, Facebook, Snapchat

There are many companies that use location sharing services such as Life360, Glympse, Find My, Snapchat, Facebook and Google+, but I want to focus on three of the most popular. Google Maps has location sharing features. When you open the application Google Maps, you will see a blue circle with a highlighted light above it. Google Maps allows you to share your current location for a set amount of time. It even lets you share your estimated time of arrival and shows what route you are on.

Facebook uses a different method by having you go into your phone's settings to enable it. Location services on Facebook allow you to get relevant ads and use the feature called Nearby Friends. This feature allows your friends to see the distance between you both. You can then send your exact location to a friend for a period of time. For example, if you and your pal are both at the same mall, you can locate where each of you are using this feature.

The app Snapchat allows you to see multiple people's locations even if you did not request to see them. Because when people make a Snapchat account, they can either decide to be public or private, including their stories and location. Snapchat uses a cartoon called Bitmoji to represent where people are around the world. Bitmojis are just cartoon characters created to represent Snapchat users. You will see human cartoon characters all over your snap map.

Snapchat is a fantastic app to use to stay updated with friends but keep in mind the updates on people's locations on this app are pretty slow and can be off by hours. They are only updated each time someone opens the Snapchat app, which can be infrequent for some people. If you do not want to share your location on Snapchat, you can go on Ghost Mode. This action prevents anyone from seeing your location, but you can see where other people are in public. This privacy feature ensures that you have your privacy wherever you go. You can get to Ghost Mode by clicking on the last symbol on the bottom left of Snapchat. Then in the top right-hand corner, you should see a settings symbol. Click on that, and Ghost Mode will appear at the top. From there, you can activate it or deactivate it.

Why Location Services Can Be A Concern

Location services can sometimes be a concern for multiple reasons. Snapchat’s location feature is one of the most concerning because just about anyone can be on your friends list. If you have your location sharing services turned on and allow strangers to watch your Snapchat stories, those people will see your location. Being open with your location especially can be a concern if the person tracking you has bad intentions. In 2014, Kamala Harris pointed out that sharing your location or geotagging can put you in physical harm, risk, or even theft.

Even apps like Instagram allow you to geotag where you are. When you post a photo on the app Instagram, you can tag your location. This geotagging is for all your followers on that app to see, and if you are a public account, anyone on Instagram can use that information against you. Another issue that arises with location sharing is that companies are collecting your location information, perhaps without you knowing. Many companies claim that they do not track their consumers' locations without consent, but unfortunately, that has not been the case. If you want more details about location services security, the NSA has more information on the risk of data exposure here.

How To Protect Yourself

The bottom line is it is fun and interesting to share your location with people you know. They can see what you are up to, and you can do the same. BUT, what if someone you are connected with on social media, perhaps someone you don't know very well, or even at all, requests to share locations with you? He or she seems like a nice, interesting person. Is this okay? Trust, of course. But verify too. When it comes to your safety and the safety of your loved ones, it’s just the smart thing to do.

So, what should you do? One great solution are the new, advanced people search engines. They use advanced people search technology to search through hundreds of millions of public records (both online and offline sources) to locate anyone in the United States. It can provide you with national criminal records, employment history, home address, phone numbers, emails, bankruptcies, social media and so much more.

If you are unsure if you feel safe sharing your location with someone, or perhaps are interested in learning more about them, is a great tool to learn more about anyone. For more information on people search engines and how they work, check out this video People We "Think" We Know.


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